Taylor University partnered with AVI to be their new dining service in spring 2023.
This happened while Taylor was preparing to remodel the Hodson Dining Commons. The plan for construction was to work on separate parts of the building during two different summers.
Plans changed when the dining commons encountered pest issues. Olson said he believed tearing down the inside of Hodson was the right thing to do, even if it posed problems for the upcoming semester.
“The university wasn’t planning on having Hodson renovated during the school year,” said Stephen Olson, vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer. “We had a new company that would have a temporary kitchen, serving in a very unusual place - it's a lot of logistical issues that they have encountered and dealt with.”
Taylor originally considered the Kesler Student Activities Center or the LaRita Boren Campus Center as options, but ended up choosing the Euler Science Complex. While the building had multiple levels, making complications for food stations, it was air-conditioned and would fulfill the need for a second dining option.
AVI set up temporary kitchen trailers outside of Euler and served all three meals on the first floor, with other make-it-yourself stations below. Areas that were once designated study zones have now been filled with tables and chairs to accommodate students.
“They're trying to service the same volume with less than half of the capacity”,” Olson said. “And that's preparing space, storage space, cooking space — you know, all that stuff. It’s a pretty fantastic operation.”
With Boren closed on Sundays, long lines trailing outside of Euler during welcome weekend caused worries about spatial issues inside the building. Olson said that while lines can be long at the beginning of the semester, this kind of issue would resolve over time as students adjusted to their class schedule.
Shelby Sullivan, manager at the Jumping Bean, works for AVI at the student center. She worked with Parkhurst dining when they took over food services in fall 2022 at Taylor, and noticed a big difference in communication and team spirit with AVI.
“For me, I feel like AVI was really welcoming and supportive,” Sullivan said. “They sat down and would talk to me and we've had actual conversations as a group.”
Students can use meal swipes at the Jumping Bean. The meal swipe includes a food item and a drink.
Olson said the dining services struggled in the winter of 2022, but it was also a learning curve for everyone. Taylor can look back at that time as a growing experience.
“It laid the groundwork for AVI to be successful now,” Olson said.
Hodson is set to reopen Dec. 1, Olson said in a campus email.