Monthly Archives: September 2016

Staff Spotlight: Mary Parker

Mary Parker got her first food service job for the same reason many young adults do. She was 16, in high school and was looking for a job.

“I was just looking for a job to start getting out on my own,” said Parker. “I was always raised that you pretty much take care of yourself. You can’t depend on really anyone. You have to just go out there and make your own, and that’s what I was pretty much just trying to do, so I got the job here.”

Parker has now worked at Armstrong Student Center for three years, after being hired on full-time after graduating high school. She is a Food Service Assistant at Pulley Diner where she stocks food, monitors labeling and oversees student employees, among other responsibilities.

With work, and a small apartment that she shares with her nearly two-year-old daughter, she’s busy.

“I’m pretty much working, taking care of my family and living my life. I’m just making sure I’ve got everything I need to be able to live and to hopefully go to school one day. Take everyday one step at a time. So much going on, especially here,” said Parker, gesturing to the busy Pulley Diner seating area. “So much.”

When Parker isn’t working, she likes to find time for two of her favorites hobbies – reading and cooking – oftentimes pulling recipes off social media outlets like Facebook and Pinterest.

“I like to read because it’s relaxing, and I feel like an escape from the world, said Parker, “Cooking is just fun to me. It’s like an adventure because you have to make sure you’re doing everything right.”

Whether Parker is trying a new recipe at home, or working at Armstrong, she enjoys the challenge of building a meal from scratch, saying cooking is like a “work of art.” It should taste good but also should look good and be prepared with care. And when it all comes together, it doesn’t hurt to hear some kind words from patrons who take the time to share.

“It’s just something nice to me, to be able to make something,” said Parker, “One day someone told us, ‘You guys are doing a great job back there,’ so things like that too. When people actually show they appreciate what we do and actually notice it, it’s nice. It’s just the little things.”

Pulley Diner is one of the most trafficked dining spots on campus, which can make it a busy location for students and the staff working behind the counter. However, Parker recognizes the challenges students face and understands that their priorities aren’t quite so far from hers and her coworkers.

“We realize [students are] coming here to try to go to class, get something to eat and leave, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to help them get out in a timely manner,” said Parker. “We’re just the same as them. We’re working here to provide for our families, trying to pay our bills, just like they’re trying to do by going to school. They’re trying to soon provide for their own families and pay their bills to make sure their life is going to be okay and taken care of. We’re just like them. We’re not that different.”


The Hard Questions

Favorite dish to prepare? To eat?

Prepare – Omelettes. It’s an artistic sort of thing. You use just the right amount of each ingredient and it looks so pretty. 

Eat – Mein Street stir-fry. 

Favorite TV Show? Supernatural.

Cat or dog? Dog. My dad raised dogs and hated cats. 

Cake or pie? Pie. There’s more variety of flavors. 

Fall (2016) Dining Updates

We are excited to share several changes to our hours of service starting this weekend, September 24th.

We have added more breakfast, brunch, and dinner buffet options on the weekends:

  • Harris Buffet will now be open for full brunch from 9 a.m.– 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, as well as dinner from 5–8 p.m.
  • Continental Breakfast has been added for Western Dining Commons and Garden Dining Commons from 9–10:30 a.m. This will feature a fruit and yogurt bar, pastries, muffins, bagels, cereal bar, and beverages.
  • Western and Garden buffets now open at 10:30 a.m. with the full brunch menu
  • Miami Traditions at Armstrong Student Center will be open on the weekends from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Buffet dinner price will be reduced from $12.95 to $9.95 to match the lunch price.

To ensure staffing levels to accommodate these changes, there will be a reduction of hours at a few locations. Starbucks at Maplestreet Station will remain open with all other venues at Maplestreet Station closed on the weekends. In addition, Tea Hive and La Mia Cucina will no longer be open on the weekends.

We have also expanded continuous dining in several buffet locations including Bell Tower, Western Dining Commons, Garden Dining Commons, and Martin.  This means buffets have options for students looking to eat between 3–5 p.m., a time that buffets have historically been closed. During this time we will offer pizza, the soup of the day, salad and fruit bar, and a hot item. For a list of current hours and which locations offer continuous dining visit our Hours page.

In addition to changes in hours, we are moving forward with other initiatives to enhance your dining experience. First, we have created a Dining Committee with representatives from Dining Services, as well as student representatives from Associated Student Government, Residence Hall Association, and other students. This group will meet monthly beginning next week.

Second, we still have many student positions available in Dining Services. These positions offer flexible hours based around student schedules, locations close to residence halls, and opportunities for advancement and management experience. A bonus program is now in effect that will allow students to earn approximately a $1.00 or more per hour depending on the total hours worked in the semester.  Miami University does limit student workers to no more than 22 hours per week.  We encourage you to look into employment opportunities, especially at Garden Commons and Western Dining Commons.

Check out our full Hours of Operation here

Revisiting the M-Pire State of Mind Dinner

Guests posed with the Statue of Liberty, listened to songs influenced by New York City, and got their “taste” of the Big Apple during the M-Pire State of Mind Special Dinner at Harris Dining Hall on September 15.

Under the glow of our own Brooklyn Bridge, students had their fill of food, inspired by the varied New York food culture. There was a station for Little Italy, featuring New York-style pizza. Chinatown served stir-fry, fried rice, and egg rolls. Another station, inspired by the New York Hot Dog Cart, served loaded hot dogs and soft pretzels. Sandwiches like a grilled pastrami with swiss on marble rye were served from the New York Delicatessen station.

Warm “Big Apple” dumplings and strawberry cheesecake headlined the desserts, but guests also had the opportunity to try Miami University’s new specialty ice cream flavor from Young’s Dairy: Red Brick Bliss! Red Brick Bliss is an exclusive ice cream flavor for Miami and will only be available at Miami Ice, in case you missed out last week.

If you had your photo taken with the Statue of Liberty, check out our Facebook album. Be sure to tag you and your friends!

Don’t miss out on anything in the world of Miami University dining! Following us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram!

Staff Spotlight: John Pittman

Armstrong Student Center is one of the busiest buildings on campus, attracting students, staff, faculty, visitors and guests.

Given the number of people who walk through Armstrong daily, it begs the question: who has the challenging task of overseeing the most-trafficked dining location on campus?

Meet John Pittman.

As an executive manager, Pittman handles and oversees operations for, not only the Armstrong Student Center, but Bell Tower Place and King Café. Needless to say many meals are prepared under his watch. The army veteran doesn’t let the pressure get to him though. In fact, he enjoys it.

I like a fast pace,” said Pittman, “It’s imperative … you’ve got a lot of people in your face and they all want their food now and I like that kind of push.”

Pittman also isn’t new to the demand of the job. While his time in food service professionally only tracks back to the conclusion of his service in the army, his experience in general food preparation dates back a bit farther.

“I started cooking food because my mom couldn’t,” he said with a grin. “I needed to learn early.”

Pittman describes himself as a “restaurant bum.” He wasn’t a cook in the Army, but when he completed his service he chose to attend culinary school and follow a career in the food industry.

I worked in restaurants in high school,” said Pittman. “That became really serious when I was a sous-chef at Chart House in California.”

He went on to work as a sous-chef at Don Pepe’s in Kansas City before returning to Cincinnati where he was a sous-chef at Black Forest Restaurant and later an executive chef at Maury’s Tiny Cove. He then ran Pomodori’s Pizza – a Zagat award-winning Italian restaurant – and Servatii’s Pastry Shops before coming to Miami University.

Now, he spends much of his time helping and supporting his staff as they prepare and serve meals on campus. He does so while still making the time to interact with students daily.   

“It’s nice … When you get older like I am, it’s nice to have contact with people who aren’t all starting to feel the aches and pains of life,” said Pittman with a laugh.

Even beyond the workplace, Pittman seeks out opportunities to support and positively influence kids. In his free time, he is a scoutmaster.

I rejoined the Boy Scouts at 38,” he said. “I work with kids and I just try to lead them by example and live the Scout Law as I can.”

He works with a Boy Scout Troop of 11-year-old to 18-year-old boys and a Venture Crew that’s coed. The Venture Crew, with kids between 14 and 21, is more focused on high adventure.

We do an annual trip to Red River Gorge. We went to Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia last year. We do a lot of Northern Ohio hiking. We’re doing a trip to Wisconsin next summer, as well as a boundary waters trip up by Canada for a week-long kayaking trip,” said Pittman.

Whether hiking in Northern Ohio, or keeping an eye on things around Armstrong, Pittman looks to help his scouts and employees develop the tools to succeed. For his staff, he focuses on three key things.

“I ask them to do their best, take pride in their work and tell them to get a thick skin because you get six or seven thousand people a day through here. Three might complain. Those are the things that hurt the most. You don’t know 5,997 people had a really good experience.”

Pittman has a lot on his plate, but he still takes the time to connect with his staff, valuing the ability to communicate with them directly.

A lot of face-to-face. A lot of personal interaction. I don’t like the group email kind of things. I like to sit down with somebody and talk with them,” he said. “It’s just more personal, and I think you get more out of it that way, on both ends.


The Hard Questions

Favorite thing about Miami University Dining?

Getting to work on this campus.

Favorite dish to prepare? To eat?

Prepare – Lamb.

Eat – A good bologna sandwich.

Favorite TV Show? Mountain Monsters.

Cat or dog? Dog.

Cake or pie? Pie.

Getting into the “M-Pire State of Mind”

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As we wrap up Ice Cream Extravaganza and welcome the festivities of an “M-Pire State of Mind” Homecoming Week, we invite you to join us for a taste of New York City!

On Thursday, September 15th from 5-8pm, Harris Dining Hall will host an M-Pire State of Mind Special Dinner, complete with a menu inspired by the New York City food scene. Enjoy different “tastes” of the Big Apple, including Little Italy, Chinatown, New York Delicatessen and the ever-tasty New York Hot Dog Cart.

And for dessert?

In addition to unique items like strawberry cheesecake, warm “Big Apple” dumplings and others, we will be unveiling Miami University’s new, exclusive ice cream flavor. The flavor, created by Young’s Jersey Dairy, will be only available at Miami University, starting with the M-Pire State of Mind Special Dinner!

So, if you’re a fan of New York-style favorites like pizza, loaded hot dogs, deli sandwiches, strawberry cheesecake, ice cream and much more, you need not worry about dinner plans on September 15th. We will see you at Harris!

Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to keep up with all the latest happenings in Miami University dining, and check out the full Homecoming schedule here!

Recapping Ice Cream Extravaganza (Fall 2016)

It was all smiles at Garden Commons during last Thursday’s Ice Cream Extravaganza event! Students braved the rain for servings of ice cream and gelato, courtesy of Madisono’s, Young’s Jersey Dairy and Miami Ice.

After all, ice cream is worth it.

Madisono’s, a company based out of Cincinnati, served delicious artisanal gelato and sorbetto to guests. Young’s Jersey Dairy, from Yellow Springs, offered a wide variety of their own tasty ice cream flavors. Finally, Miami Ice made the trek from Armstrong Student Center to serve some of their own wonderful gelato.

Additional ice cream novelties were also available and students had the opportunity to enter giveaways with a chance to win prizes from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Graeter’s!

If you are craving more sweets from last night’s festivities, Madisono’s gelato and sorbetto can be purchased on campus at Market Street at MacCracken.

Young’s Jersey Dairy supplies the ice cream for Encounter milkshakes and will be unveiling a new, exclusive Miami ice cream flavor at the M-Pire State of Mind Homecoming Special Dinner on September 15th.

Miami Ice gelato is made in-house at Armstrong and is available for purchase at the Miami Ice location there!

Make sure you are following us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, so you don’t miss out on anything in the world of Miami University dining. We look forward to serving you at the M-Pire State of Mind Homecoming Dinner on Thursday, September 15th from 5-8pm at Harris Dining Hall!

Ice Cream Extravaganza Primer

Our first special dining event is upon us! With one week of fall semester in the books, we turn our attention to Garden Commons for the ultimate summer send-off.

🍦 Ice Cream Extravaganza 🍦

On Thursday, September 8th from 5-8pm, Garden Commons will be hosting ice cream and gelato experts who want to share their craft with you. Joining us — and serving their products — will be Madisono’s Gelato, Young’s Jersey Dairy and Miami Ice. Meanwhile, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Graeter’s have given us some fun things to give away during the dinner. It will be a true ice cream celebration!

Madisono’s Gelato is hand-crafted and features some really unique artisanal flavors. The Cincinnati-based company makes gelato and sorbetto that is sold out of Market Street at MacCracken, if you’re looking for your own pint!

Get to know Madisono’s Gelato with our “Locally Grown” piece

Young’s Jersey Dairy is based in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Young’s Dairy is more than just an ice cream maker, with a fun setup in Yellow Springs that is definitely worth a day-trip. You can treat yourself to Young’s Dairy ice cream with a stop by Encounter at Maplestreet Station!

Miami Ice, based out of Armstrong Student Center, makes their own fresh gelato in-house, in addition to their ice cream fold-in creations, and offers a variety of tasty flavors!

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is based out of Columbus, Ohio and can be bought by the pint at Dorsey Market and Market Street at MacCracken.

Graeter’s is a local favorite, based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, and has a storefront uptown!

Relive Ice Cream Extravaganza from this past spring! – “We All Scream for Ice Cream (and Gelato) at Ice Cream Extravaganza!

What: Ice Cream Extravaganza

When: Thursday, September 8th from 5-8pm

Where: Garden Commons

Staff Spotlight: Tim Schomberg

If you’ve eaten at Garden Commons since its opening last fall, you probably know, or at least recognize, Tim Schomberg. Now the General Manager at Bell Tower Place, Schomberg is quick to strike up conversations with students and other guests.

Even from the start of Schomberg’s time in food service, building connections with patrons was important to him. His mom worked for Kroger for many years and Schomberg joined her, eventually spending 21 years there himself.

“I found that I loved the people,” said Schomberg, “You get regulars that would come in week after week. You really get to see their families grow up.”

Tim Schomberg is the current General Manager at Bell Tower Place.

Schomberg is the current General Manager at Bell Tower Place.

After spending time as a snap-on tool salesman and working a couple years with AVI food systems in vending services, Schomberg took a dining services job at Miami University in 2004 and has worked here since, finding the student interactions, and the relationships he develops with them, still some of his favorite things about his job.

“I love the interaction with students,” said Schomberg, “When you see these people day after day and week after week… you start building those bonds and it’s like anything else, you get to know someone. You get to see this familiar face all the time. You start to build a relationship.”

As a father of five (four daughters and one son), participating in these ongoing conversations with students feels familiar and makes it easier for Schomberg to connect with them, even beyond graduation. Today, Schomberg uses social media to keep in touch with former student managers who have since moved across the world and are now starting their own families.

It’s nice, not that I see them a whole lot, but there’s always the interaction on Facebook and I get the opportunity to see them continue to grow,” said Schomberg, “There’s one who lives in Columbus and is a big Bengals fan and I usually see him once a year. He’ll usually come down to a game and we’ll catch up on what’s been going on over the last year.”

For Schomberg, it’s a sense of “family” university-wide that not only fosters long-lasting relationships, like the ones he has with former student managers, but is also key for current students.

“I think for the most part, the people here… they just care about the students that come in. I think we all kinda feel, in some strange way, they’re all our children,” said Schomberg, “We have one goal here. To make these the best possible conditions for these students as they’re here for their four years.”

This school year, Schomberg can be found at Bell Tower Place, managing the operations of Bell Tower buffet and Bell Tower Market, ensuring our guests are provided the very best in dining services, while overseeing full-time and student staff. He still makes time for students though, whether answering questions or just starting a conversation.

“I was doing the register a little bit last night and I remembered some of the kids that came in for lunch time,” said Schomberg, “I remember talking to a few of them and they came back in, so already, this week, I’m recognizing faces, they’re recognizing mine and that’s how you build relationships.”


The Hard Questions

Favorite dish to prepare? To eat?

Prepare – I love making the stir-fry.

Eat – A good steak. I also love the big baked potatoes with the Kosher salt on the outside.

What are some of your hobbies? Interests?

I fish. I have a pond at my place. I used to hunt. I’m a big NASCAR fan and a Bengals season-ticket holder. I love to read.

Favorite TV Show? The Walking Dead

Cat or dog? Both, I have two dogs, three cats and four horses (and all the fish in his pond).

Cake or pie? It’s close, but it has to be pie.

Introducing Faculty & Staff Dining at Bell Tower Place

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Faculty & staff looking for a convenient, quiet on-campus dining experience have found their match.

Bell Tower Place, offering a delicious and varied buffet service, is now host to faculty & staff looking for a break from the hustle and bustle during meal time. The dedicated seating area, located in the Caribbean Room, will be available from 7:30am-2pm on weekdays for those looking to take advantage of Bell Tower’s extended hours, central location and wonderful food!

Benefits of Bell Tower Place

  • The $7.50 faculty & staff buffet meal deal applies
  • Use payroll deduct and receive an additional 10% off
  • Bell Tower Place offers extended hours (7:30am-2pm) and a wide variety of food during those times
  • Bell Tower Place is a central campus location

So, join us at Bell Tower Place for breakfast and/or lunch and enjoy everything Bell Tower Place has to offer! We’re excited to serve you!

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