University officials announced May 1 that NANA Management Services will take over campus dining beginning July 1, allowing Subway to remain in the Student Union for at least the next five years. The decision also raises the possibility of adding more restaurants on campus next fall, officials said.
“NANA wanted us to be here and Aramark didn’t,” said Matt Kozlowski, manager of the Student Union Subway. “We’re popular with the students, and we’re really glad to stay.”
The university intends to award NANA a contract to be the food-service provider for UA’s three major campuses, ousting Aramark as the dominant UAA contractor after its eight-year sojourn and dismissing Chartwells, the third contender for the contract. NANA already provides food services at UAF, while UAS provides its own services.
Although there is a 10-day period in which competitors can protest, Stephen Wadsworth, Aramark’s director of dining services, said he is not aware of any plans to do so.
“I’m disappointed, but I respect the university’s decision,” he said.
Initially, the university indicated an interest in having one contractor provide services to all of the campuses, but Bill Spindle, UAA’s director of business services, said there was no pressure from statewide to come up with such a resolution.
“Each of the three campuses did its own evaluation independently, and it just turned out that we had the same candidate,” Spindle said. “We had complete autonomy to do whatever we wanted.”
At UAA, the evaluation committee included a student, a residence life professional and three staff members. Although the NANA bid was the only one that included Subway staying on campus, Spindle said that aspect of the proposal was not the deciding factor for the committee.
“Basically, we’re getting a better deal financially from NANA as well as a better management aspect,” he said. “NANA is right here in Anchorage, so if we need extra people, they’re right here.”
Spindle said the committee also liked the fact that NANA Management Services is co-owned by NANA Development Corp., a local Native corporation, and Sodexho, the largest food-service provider in the country. It is a combination that will help keep university money within the state and provide the logistical and managerial expertise the university needs, he said.
Wadsworth said the next step for Aramark will be to discuss with the university and NANA the details of the transition, including what will happen to Aramark’s employees at the Commons and Lucy Cuddy Hall.
“They’ve assured me that they want to keep as many people on as they can,” Wadsworth said. “We want to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.”
Other details that need to be worked out include the future of the Student Union. While Subway is now safe from expulsion, Spindle said the university also wants to add one or two “mini venues” in the building.
Nothing is decided yet, he said, but dining services will be looking for student input in the next few weeks, hopefully in time for changes to be in place this fall.
“We’re looking for variety and value,” he said.
The new contract will last five years, though it includes the possibility for two two-year extensions.
NANA officials were not immediately available for comment.