Southern Oregon University has seen many changes around campus in the last year, with the renovation of Churchill hall nearing completion and the North Campus Village housing project ahead of schedule. The newest change on campus is the replacing of food service provider Sodexo with a new company, A’viands.
A’viands, a company based out of Roseville, Minn., took over Sept. 1 and made considerable changes to on-campus dining facilities, adding new food options in Elmo’s Cafeteria as well as bringing in outside companies.
The two changes in the Stevenson Union that most students are talking about are Midwest sandwich makers Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop and new coffee providers Noble Coffee Roasting. Erbert & Gerbert’s replaced Subway as the on-campus sandwich chain (and the franchise’s first location on the west coast) and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, expanding food options on campus for students taking night classes.
Office Manager Kylee Rohrbacker says that A’viands wants to focus on creating a cohesive community between dining and the university.
“We want to focus more on being seen as SOU Dining rather than A’viands,” said Rohrbacker, who graduated from SOU in 2011.
In fact, Rohrbacker is one of four SOU graduates working in administrative roles for A’viands and one of three who have graduated with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the last two years. This is in addition to the 120 student employees that the company has hired to staff the Cascade Complex Food Court, Elmo’s, the two coffee shops and two residence hall snack shops.
The connection between the university and food company doesn’t stop there. Uniforms for student employees are SOU shirts rather than A’viands shirts. The Bravo Pizzeria in the SU offers a salad called the Robitz toss (named after SOU’s current Director of Housing, Tim Robitz).
In addition to this, A’viands is working with various student organizations for their catering needs. They have been providing food at student events, most noticeably the Week of Welcome dinners. A’viands is also working with the National Residence Hall Honorary chapter on campus to assist with their triannual midnight pancake feed and will meet with the university’s Resident Assistants to discuss pricing on food for their events.
Whereas Sodexo seemed to receive only scorn from students, A’viands appears to be receiving only praise.
“I love the visual changes to Cascade dining,” said senior Cody Flatt. “The red accents are very pleasing to the eye and fit with our school colors.”
“I think it’s great what they’ve done to Elmo’s in such a short amount of time,” said senior Nick Conlin. “Everything looks so much more professional.”
Although the North Campus Village complex is still under construction, the company is already making decisions on what they want to do in the complex’s dining halls.
“We want to do more made to order food,” said Rohrbacker, a concept that has already made its way into the SU with Stack, the new burger station.
For the future of SOU dining, Rohrbacker says the company wants to take their cues from the customers.
“Customer feedback is very important to us,” Rohrbacker said. To provide feedback, comment cards are available at all food service areas.
Erbert & Gerbert’s hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The rest of Elmo’s including Bravo Pizza is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cascade Dining is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Noble Coffee is open in the Stevenson Union Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and in the Hannon Library Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.