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What’s Going On with the Gazebo- A Conversation with Mark Daniels

What’s Going On with the Gazebo- A Conversation with Mark Daniels

Mark Daniels
General Manager of Dining Services
Interviewed by Torian Hill

 

How long have you been in the restaurant business?
Since 2001. I started out with Chick-Fil-A where I was a corporate trainer and owned a Chick-Fil-A for a short period of time. After being in Atlanta, I ended up at Andrews University where I was a sanitation worker for Dining Services and then, later on, became General Manager in 2011. The experience was what got me here, owning four businesses: three in the Atlanta market and one with Chick-Fil-A.

What is one of the most difficult challenges you have encountered catering to a Seventh-day Adventist university?
It’s a hard for a meat-eater to step into a place like Andrews and eat fake meat. There are lots of things that I enjoy eating that we can’t serve here so we have to be creative in giving students things like protein, which they need. Another big challenge is finding people in the small town of Berrien Springs and keeping them as employees. Oftentimes people move here because they or their spouse is in school, but once they graduate they are gone and we no longer have a person with those well-developed skills.

Can you give us a history of the Gazebo?
When I came in 2011 the Gazebo looked very different. In the summer of 2012, we remodeled it. And when we did that we offered a really broad menu. A big challenge was that we could not serve people fast enough, and that is something that we still struggle with sometimes. With this came many waste elements. We had to prepare all the ingredients for all the menu options. There became an inconsistency of people purchasing certain food, which slowed us down. That is what brought us to what we have now, which is the compressed menu.

We have heard that there will be some changes coming to the Gazebo. Is that true, and if so, can you discuss them?
In terms of changes that are coming up, I spoke earlier this year about the Gazebo’s re-Grand Opening which the led to healthier foods being offered. This has helped segue into one of the bigger changes which is coming: being able to tell students about the nutritional content of the items served at the Gazebo. I am actually in the process of presenting that menu to Bon Appetit to vet so we can provide the student with nutritional content. Students should be able to make calls about what they eat based on caloric content, fiber, protein and so forth. This might change some of the recipes because we have made a commitment to Andrews that one-third of all our static (foods that are served more than 60 times a year) offerings will be designated as healthy. It will be set up in a way where you can go on your phone and pick out exactly what you want based on what nutrients you want. We are also looking to implement a type of kiosk so that someone who does not know nutritional information ahead of time can engage with detailed nutritional information.

I recently interviewed a student named Brad Hotelling who has an idea to bring personal pizzas back to the Gazebo. What are your thought on what he is doing?
There is a lot of detail in the back-story of the conversation I had with him. I love when students come with these ideas because we don’t always know what the students want. I think the pizza idea is a great one; we have done it in the past. The reason we discontinued the pizzas were for a few reasons, but the main two is that they were unhealthy and it could become very wasteful because there were many times when we were making a lot of dough and only a few people were buying them.  

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