-Ashley Cozzolino, Contributing Writer
The white yellow walls still bounce the light that streams through the giant windows of “The Caf” onto faces of not-so-sunny students, already over the two week honeymoon phase of school. Colorful flags still hover over the wide hallway that leads to familiar food stations, and general rush posters claim their obvious places in the massive food court. Everything in The Caf’s small, but important, environment is predictably the same, but there is one subtle difference.
Campus Dining has offered food services to Mississippi College for three years. Pimento’s, the healthplex smoothie bar, and MC’s newest restaurant, 1826, have been made possible by Campus Dining. For years, the company was based in Birmingham, Ala. at Samford University. “However, they were bought out by another food company,” according to service manager Natasha Carter. The Campus Dining employee explained that the company has simply decided to change the hands of its owners. “So rather than those guys running Campus Dining, Mike Prince will run it,” said Carter.
“It is a small company, and it had two major schools and some little pieces of business. Samford was the largest school for Campus Dining. When you lose one big piece of business, it does cause people to ask, ‘what’s going to happen?’” said general manager Mike Prince. According to Prince, the responsibilities of running the organization and keeping up with the paperwork will take place at MC. “We’re making this place the hub, as opposed to Samford. This school has always operated independently within the company anyways. And all decisions will be made from this campus,” said Prince.
“Nothing changes with our service. You may even see an increase in service to be honest, because we don’t have to share the funds between another school. We may be able to put a little bit more into the food service here,” said Carter.
Catering Chef Jeff Taylor expressed his enthusiasm for the low-key transition. “It allows for more personal relationships with the students now. This change will give us more freedom to be able to entertain what you want, and what the students want, instead of having to go through the chain of command to get answers,” said Taylor. Though Prince has assured us that there will be no noticeable changes on the clients’ end, Taylor explained that he looks forward to the change because, “It gives the chef more freedom to use his creativity, versus staying under that corporate umbrella.”
Campus Dining will officially function out of MC beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
“Many have questioned if this small company can survive after losing Samford,” said Prince. But the company’s faithful employees have emphasized the respect and confidence they have in Prince’s ability to manage the company. “He’s been on this campus for 20 years, and he’s had a relationship with MC for two decades, so there’s a lot of trust there,” said Taylor.
“A lot of things are being improved, and it’ll be easier to do it,” said Carter.
“We’ve changed some things in the food court, and some subtle things from food items to services. But putting 1826 together was a big change,” said Prince. Campus Dining renovated the whole front of 1826 by the time school was in full swing. At the same time, Prince has observed more room for improvement.
“With the volume that’s going down there, we probably need to take a look at the kitchen, because it was small last year and business has almost tripled,” said Prince. The food service company’s general manager explained that 1826 has worked through all the little hiccups in starting the new restaurant on campus. “We’ve actually doubled our staff down there from last year, we hope to handle the volume better, and after some trial and error, we plan to hang the final menu board on Monday,” said Prince. All in all, it appears that Samford’s loss is MC’s gain.