URI’s Hope Commons dining facility wins top national honors again

Posted on
KINGSTON, R.I. – May 27, 2010 – The University of Rhode Island’s Hope Commons dining facility captured the Loyal E. Horton Gold Dining Award in the large school category for the second straight year.

In the competition run by The National Association of College & University Food Services, URI won top honors over the University of Massachusetts (silver), Virginia Tech (bronze) and University of Georgia (honorable mention) in the category of Residence Hall Dining—Multiple Concepts/Outlets.

Last year, the University won in the large school division and then captured the grand prize among small, medium and large schools. This year’s overall winner will be announced at the association’s annual meeting in San Jose, Calif. July 7 through 10.

Like last year, the URI Dining Services team put together a glossy, colorful contest book that highlighted its food offerings, menu selection, merchandising and marketing in all three of the units at Hope Commons. The three units are Mainfare, the central dining facility; Rhody Market, a retail pastry, coffee, pizza and ice cream shop that includes a large common area for student gatherings and the Corner Store, a convenience store with a wide array of items.

“This year, we added sections in the contest book to showcase our new programs, such as Beatlemania night and India night with belly dancing and henna tattoos,” said URI Dining Services Director Steve Mello. “We did Beatlemania night in conjunction with the release of the new Beatles CD, and India Night complemented the fall Honors Colloquium, Demystifying India.”

As part of the Beatlemania fun, Mello dressed up as Joe Lennon, an alter ego of John Lennon, and staff member Kim Duong, a cook’s helper, dressed up as Joe’s partner, Loco Ono.

“For Beatlemania, we made a cake in the shape of a drum with edible pictures of the four Beatles,” Mello said. “We also had a Strawberry Fields Forever dessert.”

Mello said he and his team ran a Beatles trivia contest, “but I had to keep making the questions easier because the students didn’t know the answers. I guess it’s a generational thing,” he said with a laugh. “We also did a Beatles Rock Band contest.

“All of these events and programming are ways that we try to keep the dining experience fresh and new,” Mello said.

He had high praise for Dave Bilotto, Dining Services’ graphic designer, for putting together another vibrant contest book chock full of great photos.

“Everyone in our staff works hard every day,” Mello said. “Everyone gets together to develop new programs that work.”

To see the colorful contest book, go to http://www.uri.edu/dining/ and click on the icon with the student in the Rams shirt holding her food.