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With Aramark’s contract ending, Miami prepares to welcome Chartwell for campus dining

Chartwell will return to campus after providing dining services in Armstrong in July 2021, before Aramark.
Chartwell will return to campus after providing dining services in Armstrong in July 2021, before Aramark.

When Miami University announced the end of its contract with Aramark dining services last September, many students and workers on Miami’s campus had mixed feelings about the change and what company would fill the role following the 2023-2024 school year.

Miami’s new contract with Chartwell Higher Ed will take effect June 1 to serve those on campus over the summer, including orientation groups and camps. Chartwell will return to campus after providing dining services in Armstrong in July 2021, before Aramark.

Sophia Miller, junior strategic communications and public administration major and student manager at the Withrow Starbucks location, said the original news of the contract ending  shocked her and her colleagues. Still, she looks forward to what Chartwell can bring to Miami’s campus.

“I still have mixed feelings on it … it just felt very sudden no one expected it to happen,” Miller said. “I do know that Aramark's variety in the dining halls were not very good, so I imagine freshmen and those who use the dining hall will enjoy the change.”

David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services & treasurer, said the search for a new dining contract involved wanting to continue the “different” approach Miami has taken to dining over the past few years, including the locker system at Bell Tower and the Grubhub food delivery robots. With Chartwell, many of these enhancements will remain on campus and continue to modernize the dining experience.

“We originally made significant changes because we recognized that students didn’t have a lot of time to go to the dining hall, especially for breakfast and lunch,” Creamer said. “Whereas students are able to get something on the go and not have it interrupt your class schedule.”

Miami considered two dining proposals for the upcoming school year: one from Aramark and one from Chartwell. Creamer said they decided to go in the direction of Chartwell because of what the company had proposed compared to continuing operations with Aramark. He said there was no single issue that led to the decision to change contracts.

Creamer anticipates the transition will be seamless, so students will not notice the difference between the two dining services. However, employees hired under Aramark’s contract must decide whether to remain at Miami under Chartwell or leave with Aramark.

Miller said that although many employees might choose to stay, some who have been with Aramark for years will likely leave with the change.

Despite the new contract, wages for student employees and managers will not change. In the contract, it is made clear that employees under Miami are not employees of Chartwell, and vice versa.

The contract was signed between Creamer and Dennis Hogan, chief executive officer of Chartwell, on Feb. 13 and 14. Since the adoption of the contract, representatives from Aramark headquarters have been coming to Miami’s campus to answer questions for students and full-time employees.

“It's kind of been a weird transition period because Chartwell is half on campus, half off,” Miller said.

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With the new transition coming, Creamer said they will continue to evaluate sites where they believe improvement can be made and figure out what works best for students who operate on a busy schedule. This could include more options for students with allergies, which has increased in recent years.

Despite trying to improve dining services, Creamer said there will be no significant changes made to Miami dining, except for the possible elimination of Cafe Lux.

“We’ve really just been looking at the duplication of services that aren’t really adding value,” Creamer said. “But we’re continuing to look at another brand offering in Armstrong to balance things out. We’d like to have something that competes really well with Panera and kind of balances out the options students have.”