Chartwells Higher Education’s retail-inspired residential station at the University of Utah has been recognized by Food Management as a 2022 Best Concept Awards winner in the Best Station Concept category. This award recognizes Chartwells and the U’s excellence in bringing a new and innovative initiative to a residential dining hall.
In August of 2021, U Dining piloted a new way for students to order food on campus: QR codes. The Game, a sports grill dining station, was designed to bring a new experience to residential dining. What started as a traditional residential station quickly evolved into a retail-style restaurant featuring a made-to-order QR code ordering system that can handle high volume and fast-paced services.
“We are a fast-growing campus and the demand for variety in the meal plan program is always top-of-mind for us,” said Chuck Weaver, resident district manager at Chartwells Higher Education. “The QR code ordering allowed us to diversify our menu and provide more quality food for more students without needing to completely overhaul our dining operations.”
The Game offers menu items and meal concepts that traditionally could not be featured in an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall setting. In addition, the QR code ordering system gives guests greater convenience and flexibility when ordering and helps them avoid waiting in lines.
“I’d say the best part about it (QR code ordering) is the elimination of having to physically wait in line for food,” said Connor Harris, a junior at the U. “It allows me to go browse the other options while I wait and ends up saving me a lot of time.”
Given the positive student feedback, U Dining plans to expand its QR code ordering system to include nearly every meal station on campus.
“The success of the QR codes is changing the way we look at residential dining on campus,” said Jerry Basford, associate vice president of student affairs at the U. “We want to give our students the best dining program imaginable. The dining experience they get at The Game is just one of the ways we’re doing that, and we’re honored to have the concept recognized by Food Management.”
Since 1998, Food Management’s annual Best Concept awards program has recognized and celebrated the best practices and most innovative thinking in on-site food service. Each year, editors evaluate best-in-class nominations on a variety of factors like creativity, impact and effectiveness. This year, Chartwells Higher Education was also named a winner in the Best Special Concept category for Joy-Ful, a year-long welcome back campaign that took place at the U and over 300 other U.S. campuses nationally.