This year UTSA will decide if it wants to continue a relationship with Chartwells or sign a five-year contract with one of Chartwell’s competitors, Aramark or Sodexo.UTSA entered into a five-year contract with Chartwells in 2003 without a real focus in mind.
“At that time we didn’t have a broad plan,” Pamela Bacon, associate vice president for administration, said. “We sent out a request for proposals to all three companies and are waiting for their replies.”
All three companies are under closed bids. To retain a fair market price for each food service company, little information could actually be attained from them.
The current Chartwells contract provides UTSA with a 10 percent commission on meal plans. Chartwells also pays a 7 percent commission on retail sales up to $2.5 million. When retail sales are over $2.5 million, the university receives additional money on an escalated rate scale.
Chartwells has proposed adding two of their brand restaurants: Las Palapas, a Mexican restaurant in the new University Center (UC), and Pulse on Dining for the Road Runner Café. Chartwells also offered UTSA the following brands: Chick-fil-a, Taco Bell, Burger King and Smoothie King.
“Our future plans for the University of Texas at San Antonio were derived after a comprehensive campus research project, which involved over 3,600 student surveys,” Holly J. Hart, director of marketing and communications for Chartwells Higher Education Division, said.
UTSA conducted its own survey in 2006. The results of the survey were that students and faculty were looking for more healthy food and variety.
“Based on the survey, there was interest across the board to provide healthy food choices. We are also looking at adding Pizza Hut Café. Chartwells, however, is unable to get that franchise,” Bacon said.
When Aramark was asked about the proposal, they were evasive. “It is our corporate policy not to comment on new proposals,” David Gargione, marketing director and media contact for Education, Corporate and General Media Inquiries, said.
Gargione gave no information on potential restaurants either.”Again, it’s our policy not to comment on proposals,” Gargione said.
In 2007, Sodexo had revenues of approximately $21.2 billion. According to their Web site, they offer Chick-fil-a, Burger King, Cold Stone Creamery, Einstein’s Bros. Bagels, Jamba Juice Company, Pizza Hut, Panda Express, Taco Bell, Starbucks and Wendy’s. Subway was not listed on their Web site as a possible franchise; however, Sodexo does have access to Quizno’s Sub and Blimpies.
According to Jane Wilcox, director of business auxiliary services, some of the UTSA restaurants have done quite well. “Under the Chartwells brand, Subway is the second highest grossing non-traditional store in Texas and is ranked number 16 out of 133 stores in San Antonio,” Wilcox said.
Also under Chartwells management, Einstein Bagels and Marketplace Café have received The Blue Plate Award. “Blue Plate Award is rewarded when you get a perfect health inspection,” Bacon said.
In terms of profit, UTSA is breaking even. “The money we receive from Chartwells just pays the costs we incur,” Bacon said.
UTSA pays for the utilities, housekeeping, maintenance, building codes compliance, pest control, point of sale (cash register system) terminal and the staff that oversees the contract.According to Bacon, students can influence who wins the bid.”Students will see changes in food service next year. Students can help steer that change by participating in the Food Service Committee or by telling their elected SGA officials,” Bacon said.