Aramark names new retail food service director
The University of Houston Dining Services selected a new retail food service director July 13 to manage the seven convenience stores and more than 20 retail locations on campus.
In the process of preparing for the position, Chris Conti, who worked as the food service director at UH-Downtown for five years, has formulated a plan to tackle the dietary challenges within UH’s diverse student body.
“Customer service is always a focus of mine, and I hope to do my best to raise the bar and continue to make improvements across campus,” Conti said.
According to Conti, national research suggests that college students want more retail meal choices and less dining halls. With the limited food options available in dining halls, the ability to individually purchase what students prefer seems more attractive to them.
“Our dining program includes a variety of retail brands to satisfy the taste buds of many different students all across campus,” Conti said. “My role is to ensure we are providing the best quality service and meeting the needs of the campus community.”
Conti’s experience at UH-Downtown differed from the challenges he will potentially face at UH’s main campus. Although the residential meal program is “very robust,” in Conti’s opinion, he acknowledged that there are many aspects of the food retail operations in need of improvement.
Junior biology major Wardah Jaffery recognized that the scope of the campus may be a problem for Conti.
“UH is a much bigger campus than UH-D,” Jaffery said. “It has several dining halls and more convenience stores, so it’ll be more work for him. Hopefully, he will be up to the challenge and improve the quality of food at UH.”
As one of his first tasks, Conti plans to supplement the Cougar Card and Cougar Cash payment options with additional perks to encourage commuter students to buy food on campus.
In accordance with the Student Government Association’s resolution to add more halal options to campus convenience stores and dining halls, Conti also recognizes the need for awareness.
“I hope he realizes the level of diversity at UH, including the increasing demand for halal options,” said Noor Baweja, a senior psychology major. “If those demands start to be met, that would bring an awesome revolution to the food situation on campus.”
Conti said his team at Aramark works closely with the Cougar Card office and the Food Service Advisory Committee to review data of current trends and make necessary changes to the meal plans.
Conti also intends to adjust the system to meet the needs of individuals as well as everyone by keeping in mind dietary restrictions due to medical conditions and religious beliefs.