Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUL 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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24 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JULY 2017 a pro you should know Kirk Rodriguez, Managing Director of Hospitality Services, Texas Tech University By Amelia Levin K irk Rodriguez worked his way through the ranks at Texas Tech throughout the past 24 years. He started as a hospitality student and climbed the ladder of the foodservice depart- ment to managing director of hospitality services. He was instrumental in develop- ing the university's full-scale retail program and overhauling dining services, which now include multiple food courts, mini markets, kiosks, franchise concepts and food trucks, as well as healthy catering. Rodriguez oversees a $40 million foodservice operation and manages more than1,000 employees. FE&S: Retail seems to be the wave of the future for many college campuses and Texas Tech has been a leader. What are you doing to maintain and improve upon your services? KR: There are certainly colleges and universities that are still passionate about all-you care-to-eat programs, but retail is the way to go now. Our students were very vocal about wanting more retail options about 12 years ago. We have an on-campus population of 7,300, but 36,500 students come on the campus every day for classes, so we compete heavily with off-campus restaurants. Bring- ing in more franchised brands was part of our renovation. And most of our students eat throughout the day rather than have a tradi- tional breakfast, lunch and dinner so having a robust grab-and-go program is important. Our production kitchen handles the grab- and-go items for all of our kiosks and retail locations across the campus but most of the retail sites have their own kitchens. Most of our operations are open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. FE&S: As director of hospitality services, what is your day-to-day like? KR: Well, that's the reason I've been here as long as I have — no day is the same. We're about building people and relationships and developing our future leaders of tomorrow. We have 22 physical locations with over 50 concepts around campus so it takes me the entire week to get from one place to another, but I like to say I try to make it to all of them. FE&S: How do you collect feedback and engage students in dining services? KR: We're a big self-operated school, which is another one of those things that continues to be more prevalent among universities these days. Some universities think that the education of their students is most important and will farm out food- service, but we believe this is an important piece of student development and we contribute significantly by being a part of the student experience. We have used mediums to engage with students, such as student government, residence hall associations, and even menu committees with students working with our on-staff dietitian. In fact, our dietitian regularly meets with our students to get feedback and develop new menu offerings. FE&S: Customization and variety seem to be very important to college students these days. How do you cater to that? KR: Most of our concepts offer some form of customization, from pizzas to sand- wiches, salad concepts, Mexican concepts, grilled cheese bars, baked potato bars, and We're about building people and relationships and developing our future leaders of tomorrow. Kirk Rodriguez Managing Director of Hospitality Services Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas

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