With the start of a new semester, the Hospitality Services team is ready to welcome students back and improve dining across campus to make sure it meets students’ needs.
Alan Cushman, manager of business development for Hospitality Services, said the Hospitality department is part of Texas Tech rather than a contracted food service, and he said that means everything they do is built towards supporting Red Raiders and the campus community.
“We have over 22 different dining locations across campus. And that represents all you care to eat, food courts, mini markets, national brands, express kiosks, academic buildings, we have a food truck, you name it,” Cushman said. “No matter what students are looking for, we’ve tried to provide it in the highest quality in the best locations available on campus.”
At the moment, Cushman said the department does not immediately have any new implementations in terms of dining coming up on campus, but they are working on some new programs on the back end. One program Cushman said he is most excited about is improving the Dining Bucks program to make it easier for students in the long run.
“So, it’s just another way of kind of creating those better options for students and that’s again, part of Hospitality Services and what our mission is, is to do the best thing that we can for Red Raiders,” he said.
In the fall 2019 semester, Hospitality Services implemented self-ordering kiosks at The Market in Stangel/Murdough. Over the fall semester, Cushman said the kiosks were reworked in how they are operated, such as the streamlining of some of the menus, as well as people being able to customize their orders however they would like.
Cushman said Hospitality Services is also looking at changing some of the pickup points at The Market to make it clearer and more concise. The menu and culinary teams are going through and looking at the menus to make sure those customization options are still there. Some of the items people have been requesting that had been removed are also potentially coming back.
Cushman said he believes the kiosks in The Market are what people will start seeing in restaurants everywhere and said they are always going to be in constant evolution.
“We always want to make sure that we’re listening to students, not just students, but faculty and staff and anybody in the Red Raider community who can dine with us, so we want to make sure if it’s not working, then we’re going to do what we need to do to make it work,” he said. “So, we do see some changes that will come in this spring to the service styles over there. It’s been interesting, you know, it’s always fun when you bring in something new on campus.”
Another thing Cushman said he is looking forward to doing this spring is hosting more unique events on campus. Hospitality Services’ chef Dewey McMurray has been working with some companies to bring in some guest chefs to do a Mardi Gras dinner at The Commons on Feb. 25 and on May 5 for Cinco de Mayo at Fresh Plate. The annual chili cook-off is another event Cushman said he is looking forward to on Feb. 19 in the Student Union Building ballroom.
“That’s kind of some of the fun stuff that we’re looking to do for the semester is just kind of, you know, really showcase some of these unique products and some of the talented chefs that are in our in our department, but then also bring in some, some new faces to you,” Cushman said. “But that’s kind of it, you know, everything that we do from Hospitality Services’ standpoint, we do pride ourselves on being Red Raiders feeding Red Raiders. And so, we really want to make sure we are supporting all students in their academic pursuits and how we do that by feeding them and making sure you guys are ready to go and achieve your goals.”