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The business of food service is front and center at Missouri State University, where Earle Doman led a selection committee that chose Chartwells over Sodexo and Aramark.
The business of food service is front and center at Missouri State University, where Earle Doman led a selection committee that chose Chartwells over Sodexo and Aramark.

MSU plates $29M food contract

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Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A and Subway are coming to Missouri State University’s Plaster Student Union as part of the $29 million contract with food-service provider Chartwells.

MSU board of governors approved the deal April 1, ending a 15-year relationship with Gaithersburg, Md.-based Sodexo. National food-service company Aramark, along with Sodexo, also sought the rights to provide meal services on the Springfield campus.

As part of the deal, Earle Doman, vice president of student affairs with the university, said Chartwells would spend $3 million on renovations to Garst dining hall.

Chartwells has committed to $7.6 million in capital improvements through 2021. It also plans to remodel the atrium section on the west side of the Blair-Shannon dining hall.

The company will pay out a guaranteed $21.6 million in commissions, investments and financial contributions through the first 10 years, with a guaranteed $29 million if the university picks up its three one-year options.

“The changes will begin within a month of Chartwells coming on in May,” Doman said. He said Chartwells would act as the franchisee for Chick-Fil-A, Subway and Starbucks, with Blimpie’s, Kaldi’s Coffee and Grill 155 leaving with the end of the Sodexo era May 15.

Doman said Papa John’s was being considered to replace the center’s Domino’s, which is under a separate contract. Wok & Roll will remain in place for another year, at which time it would be replaced by Panda Express, according to Doman.

Doman managed the committee that took a year to select Chartwells. The selection committee – which consisted of MSU controller Steve Foucart; Plaster Student Union Director Thomas Lane; a hospitality and restaurant administration faculty member; and two students – took trips to visit Chartwells and Aramark facilities and studied the candidates’ menu quality, performance methods, experience, reliability and financial offers during the process.

Doman said financial considerations played the largest part in the decision, accounting for 40 percent of the scoring. “Chartwell’s package was the best,” he said, adding that the company’s flexibility with meal plan options in the student union was also a key factor.

Chartwells is owned by Charlotte, N.C.-based Compass Group North America, which recorded $9.9 billion in 2010 revenues and is a subsidiary of Compass Group PLC, of the United Kingdom.

So long, Sodexo
Doman said the review process was effective.

“We knew (Sodexo’s) management style; we had personal relationships with many of them,” Doman said. “We viewed them as partners, and we’ll do the same thing with Chartwells.”

Dave Yurchak, MSU senior buyer of procurement services, said the selection committee was torn after its preliminary evaluations of the companies.

“The first round of scoring was extremely close. On the cost side, it was almost equal for all three. On the technical side, one had a lead, but it wasn’t unanimous,” Yurchack said.
He said the virtual dead heat led to further negotiations with all three candidates before the group determined its final result.

Chartwells Regional Vice President Stuart Henning said the company, which serves 250 higher education facilities nationwide, tried to listen to what students at Missouri State wanted.

“We came to the campus and we talked to students early on to find out their dining preferences,” Henning said.

He said the company planned to hire 200 employees to serve students at the university and that Sodexo workers would have opportunities for hire. He added the university was currently reviewing plans for the changes at Plaster Student Union, and fall students would reap the benefits of its labor.

Shelly Duran, MSU General Manager for Sodexo, said the news that her employer would not be awarded the contract was tough to handle. “We were devastated, absolutely devastated,” she said. “This has been a wonderful partnership, so certainly it was our hope and our intention to keep the relationship going.” Sodexo employees are now considering their options.

“They can certainly look at other Sodexo accounts and many members of the management team are doing that,” Duran said.

Sodexo is under a $12 million contract with Nixa Public Schools to perform facilities management, and Duran said Nixa or one of Sodexo’s 6,000 locations would be an option for those leaving Missouri State.

“I’ll pursue other opportunities with Sodexo,” Duran said of her plans. “I have been with Sodexo for 26 years. For me, though, Springfield has become my home, and it will be a very difficult departure.”

Offers on the table
Drury University serves its students through a food-service contract with Wheeling, W.Va.-based Aladdin Food Management Services LLC. The company, which claims more than 150 clients in 20 states, serves food at FSC Commons and Campus Exchange in Springfield Hall. According to, a student-led committee plans each week’s meals, as well as special event menus. The private university requires students to purchase a meal plan, something not required at Missouri State.

Mark Miller, director of media relations at Drury, said the university is in the middle of a multiyear contract with Aladdin Food Services. The deal does not contain a request that Aladdin make capital improvements.

Brenda Rantz, director of financing for Nixa schools, said Chesterfield-based Oppa Food Management Inc. has handled its food service for most of her 26 years with the district.
The school typically seeks five-year contracts from its provider with one-year renewal options, and Rantz said Oppa is contracted through 2014 to provide food service for Nixa’s 11 campuses.

Nixa’s custodial services provided by Sodexo went through a similar bid process. According to Springfield Business Journal archives, outsourcing those services in 2009 led to $200,000 annual savings for the district.

While Rantz said price points are important – Oppa receives $2.36 for each lunch served and $1.76 for each breakfast – the district is considers more than just money. It wants a partner to help meet federal quality nutritional guidelines.[[In-content Ad]]


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