Changes are taking place at campus eateries after the hiring of a Rick Leibowitz. Leibowitz replaced Michael Cervantes in June as the Aramark food service director for University Dining Services. Leibowitz is an employee of Aramark, whose contract with the university will be up for renewal in June 2006.
Leibowitz expressed confidence that the changes implemented since he took over will improve the quality of food and customer service and will be cost-effective for students.
A significant change to the student dining policy allows students to use all-you-can-eat meal cards for breakfast.
Previously, all-you-can-eat meals could only be used during dinner hours and at weekend brunches. If students were unable to eat during these times, they would have to pay for each food item with dining points or Wolf Bucks.
Under the new policy, students save on dining points and Wolf Bucks, Leibowitz said.
In response to student requests, dinner has been extended by one hour and now lasts until 7:30 p.m.
The Corner Cafe in the Student Union has been renamed the Union Station Cafe to correspond to the recent change in the building name. Island Oasis, a new smoothie stand, will offer fresh smoothies at the Daily Grind, Counter Culture and the Union Station Cafe.
Leibowitz said the biggest changes will be culinary, and he is confident he can provide students with a more creative menu and higher quality food.
‘The grab-n-go sandwiches that we kept putting out over the summer…I think we can do a much better job with that,’ Leibowitz said. ‘I don”t want students going (to Cuddy Hall) because it”s the closest place. I want them going there because it has quality food.’
Leibowitz brings plenty of experience to the table.
The Ewing, New Jersey native owned bagel stores in Ewing and Yardly, Pennsylvania. He came to Alaska as a small business consultant to a bagel bakery in Juneau and has lived in the Matanuska Valley for the past seven years.
Leibowitz was the food and beverage director at the Anchorage Sheraton Hotel and previously worked for UAA as the director of the Small Business Development Center in Ketchikan and the Matanuska Valley.
He learned of the position opening at UAA through a friend who works for Aramark.
‘I was happy with my job in the Mat-Su Valley but my friend convinced me that the (food service director) position would be fun,’ Leibowitz said.
An ongoing problem with food services has been the lack of interaction between the Commons staff and students.
‘Michael Cervantes was not responsive to student concerns. There were only two or three people on the staff that you could talk to,’ UAA senior James Barber said.
Leibowitz believes he can bring a new level of communication between students and the staff.
‘I”m someone the students can approach when they have their concerns, and who will address their needs,’ he said.
The staff at the Commons as been a lot friendlier since Leibowitz took over the position, Barber said.