Carnegie Mellon University

Photo of a salad with many different kinds of vegetables and a small bowl of tomato soup

May 15, 2018

Carnegie Mellon Dining Services Announces New Primary Dining Vendor

Mandi Semple
  • Director of Marketing, Student Affairs
  • 412-268-3437

After an extensive, competitive process, Carnegie Mellon University has agreed to terms with a new primary foodservice vendor for its diverse and multifaceted dining program.

Beginning July 1, Chartwells Higher Education, a division of Compass Group, will join CMU Dining Services to build upon the goal of becoming a best-in-class dining program. Together, Carnegie Mellon and Chartwells will engage the entire campus community through provision of the highest quality food, service, technology, marketing, innovation, sustainability and wellness. 

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the request-for-proposal process and timeline, primary vendor contract transition process, and Chartwells proposals and plans for Carnegie Mellon’s dining program.  

The Request-for-Proposal (RFP) Process

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is an invitation to bid issued by a company or organization (in this case, Carnegie Mellon University), on a project or service (such as food service) to qualified providers of that service. It is a competitive bid process that includes a project timeline, scope of services required, terms of contract, and proposal requirements. The interested bidders are expected to submit proposals that identifies how their organization will deliver the scope of work, vision to become best-in-class, and what differentiates the company from the competition.

As an astute business practice and after identifying areas for enhancement and growth, CMU Dining Services decided to begin the Request for Proposal process. Carnegie Mellon University Dining Services’ vision to be a nationally top-ranked dining program means that it must partner with a primary vendor that most enables our program to impact the entire campus community through a commitment to high quality food, passionate service, innovative concepts, wellness and sustainability.

This timeline illustrates the entire RFP process, including RFP development, release date, pre-bid activities, a question-and-answer period, proposal submission, proposal review, finalist presentations, site visits, final negotiation, and contract award.

A timeline detailing CMU's RFP process

An RFP committee, comprised of 60 stakeholders from across the university, reviewed proposals, participated in on-campus vendor presentations, and submitted evaluations. The committee included students, faculty and staff from colleges and academic departments, student leadership groups, and administrative departments. 

The evaluations were based on a number of assessment factors, including overall experience and personnel qualifications, menus and catering, nutrition (health and wellness), sustainability, marketing and technology, and benefits and uniqueness of the program for Carnegie Mellon.

Additionally, references, including current and past accounts, were contacted, and members of Dining Services conducted site visits to current university accounts of the RFP finalists.

The new primary food service vendor contract with Chartwells is five years.

The Chartwells contract begins on July 1, 2018.

Operations and Transition Process

No. Carnegie Mellon University Dining Services is comprised of 12 vendors, including the primary dining vendor and 11 independent vendors. 

Primary vendor concepts will undergo initial changes when the new contract begins July 1. Specific information about those changes will be communicated to the CMU community as it is available over the coming months. Physical renovations will take place over the next three years, at which time additional proposed dining concept changes will be executed.

  1. City Grill
  2. Downtown Deli
  3. Evgefstos
  4. Pasta Villaggio
  5. Ramen Bowl
  6. Rice Bowl
  7. Spinning Salads
  8. Nourish, allergen-friendly kitchen
  9. Entropy+
  10. Schatz Dining Room
  11. Breakfast Express
  12. Carnegie Mellon Café
  13. Chef’s Table
  14. Fresh Soup and Salad Select
  15. Garden Bistro
  16. Grill ‘n’ Greens/Saigon Pho
  17. Mac ‘n’ Cheese
  18. Nakama (contracted by the primary vendor)
  19. Spice It Up Grill
  20. Stir Crazy
  21. Take Comfort
  22. Tartans Pizza
  23. Maggie Murph Café
  24. Heinz Café
  25. Rothberg’s Roasters II
  26. Catering and Executive Dining Services
  1. Au Bon Pain
  2. El Gallo de Oro
  3. Tartan Express
  4. The Underground
  5. Zebra Lounge
  6. SEIber Café
  7. The Exchange
  8. Stephanie’s
  9. Ginger’s in Baker and Purnell
  10. iNoodle
  11. The Pomegranate
  12. La Prima Espresso
  13. Rohr Café featuring Tazza D’Oro
  14. AVI and Tazza D’Oro at Tepper Quad
  15. Taste of India

All union employees currently employed through CulinArt will have the opportunity to join the Chartwells team, giving them the chance to maintain their pay, benefits and seniority and continue being a part of the CMU community.

The RFP outcome has no impact on how students and community members use block meals, FLEX dollars or DineXtra at dining locations across campus. However, beginning this fall, traditional meal plans will offer more flexibility.

Chartwells will become the main and preferred caterer on campus. All orders will roll over to Chartwells beginning July 1. If you have specific questions about catering for an event that takes place after June 30, please email.

Chartwells Commitments and Deliverables

Chartwells specializes in higher education, with over 270 higher education accounts across the country. As a division of Compass Group, the world’s largest food service company, Chartwells brings unparalleled experience and a proven track record of delivering customized innovation and creating transformative dining experiences that will take Carnegie Mellon’s dining program to the next level. 

Chartwells proposes capital improvement projects that would take place over the next three years in locations such as the Cohon Center, Resnik House and the Hunt Library. Their plans offer a consistent approach to campus enhancements focusing on user-focused design, culinary excellence, inclusive dining, health and wellness, sustainability, and innovative technologies.

Chartwells’ mission is to create safe environments that nurture the body, mind and spirit and offer spaces for students to decompress from hectic schedules and daily pressures. Carnegie Mellon’s dining areas will become creative zones with plentiful and comfortable seating areas, soft lighting and music, multi-use spaces with abundant charging areas and outlets, and design components that spark creativity and contribute to the overall ambiance.

Menus will feature fresh, authentic flavors from around the globe, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and locally-sourced ingredients.

Nourishing the CMU community with healthy food is a clear priority for Chartwells, with nutritious and sustainable cuisine taking center stage throughout the proposed menus and dining concepts.

Chartwells is a proud premier sponsor of Menus of Change, an initiative developed by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard School of Public Health. Launched in 2012, the initiative brings together chefs, nutrition and environmental scientists, farm and fisheries experts, foodservice executives and policy makers. The Menus of Change initiative seeks to drive behavior changes by making modifications to menu development that support healthier lifestyles and sustainable dining choices.

Chartwells’ goal is to provide the most delicious foods possible that are healthy, make progress toward environmental sustainability and align with Menus of Change. Chartwells will have an on-campus Registered Dietitian and Sustainability Coordinator to ensure that menus are designed with the following criteria in mind:

  • Use fresh, local and organic produce whenever possible
  • Introduction of limited-time offers (LTOs) that support plant-forward, vegetarian and vegan cuisine
  • Increase the ratio of vegetables at all meal times, including an expansion of vegetable side dishes
  • Always offer whole grain options
  • Integrate authentic international cuisine ingredients that are naturally healthy
  • Introduce air fryers in place of deep fryers
  • Offer a minimum of two fair trade-certified options at each dining location
  • No artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or seasonings
  • Sodium reduction on menus by developing flavor through a variety of cooking techniques
  • Increase creative sugar free and caffeine free beverage options

Chartwells takes health and wellness beyond the plate, by not only satisfying the unique appetites, lifestyles and dietary needs of every guest, but by acknowledging that food also brings people together to promote meaningful relationships. Dining locations will be social spaces that serve as centers of academic life.

Chartwells sets the standard and leads the industry on sustainability issues and will hire an on-campus Registered Dietitian and Sustainability Coordinator. In partnership with Dining Services, Chartwells is committed to minimizing environmental impact through sustainable initiatives with regard to the following areas:

  • Purchasing – dairy, eggs, seafood, coffee, poultry, local and organic, imperfect produce
  • Commitment to the Real Food Challenge and use of Real Food Calculator ensuring 20% of food purchased is sourced locally by 2020
  • Transportation
  • Preparation
  • Waste
  • Food Recovery
  • Composting
  • Compostable packaging and cutlery
  • Education
  • Sustainable design
  • Recycling
  • Water and energy efficiency and conservation

Additionally, Chartwells will offer a sustainability fund that can be used towards a sustainability program on campus, including:

  • Rocket composter
  • Food dehydrator
  • Biodiesel processors
  • Reusable container program
  • Hydroponic growing system
  • Rooftop pallet gardens
  • Hoop house garden (large hoops covered with greenhouse plastic) 

Training and professional development are integral parts of Chartwells’ culture and the keys to their success and guests’ satisfaction. Associates at all levels of the Chartwells organization have access to Compass Group’s vast training curriculum in addition to Chartwells’ customized training programs. These programs incorporate a variety of teaching formats, including classroom sessions, interactive webinars, case studies, on-the-job training and computer-based learning.

On-boarding for the management and hourly employees will include orientation and training in guest service, communications, food safety and sanitation (including managing food allergies), diversity and inclusion, and sexual and workplace harassment.

Management will go through extensive leadership development and Chartwells’ initiatives training, including topics such as food waste reduction, Balanced U health and wellness program, and Webtrition, Chartwells’ proprietary menu management, production, and nutrition analysis system.

As a part of Compass group, Chartwells is on the forefront of implementing technology that enhances all aspects of the dining experience. Carnegie Mellon will be a first mover in dining innovation and receive the full compendium of Compass Digital Labs innovations, focused on a human-centered approach to technology that allows students to curate their food experience. Proposed solutions include:

  • Mobile and kiosk ordering
  • Tech tables for tablet ordering and delivery
  • Traffic cams and alerts
  • Digital loyalty reward cards
  • iPhone coffee bars
  • Automated smart markets
  • Robot deliveries
  • Food lockers
  • Beacon technology

Chartwells is committed to supporting and nurturing students through their academic journey at Carnegie Mellon. The Student Success Program internships provide entrepreneurial experiences working with industry-leading subject matter experts. Opportunities include:

  • Sustainability internship
  • Chartwells + Compass Digital Labs Internship
  • Chartwells + E15 Internship
  • Incubator Games – Experiential Learning
  • The Compass Fellowship - Leveraging the Resources of the World’s Largest Food Service Organization
  • Thought Leadership – TED-style talks with Chartwells and Compass leaders combined with Teaching Kitchen Events