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Competition edges out Sodexho

University in negotiations with new food-service provider; 7 restaurants could go

 by Sam Good
 published on Monday, March 19, 2007

SODEXHO OUT: Chef Felipe Peña prepares food for students Sunday at Pitchforks in the Memorial Union. Sodexho, the foodservice company that serves ASU has lost their contract./issues/news/700269
Bettina Hansen / THE STATE PRESS
SODEXHO OUT: Chef Felipe Peña prepares food for students Sunday at Pitchforks in the Memorial Union. Sodexho, the foodservice company that serves ASU has lost their contract.


Despite 50 years of experience, ASU's food-service vendor will likely be ousted in July.

As a result, students can expect a few things to change.

ASU renegotiates its food service contract every 10 years and announced earlier this month that it chose ARAMARK, one of Sodexho's rivals in the food service industry, to provide the dining needs for ASU over the next decade.

The two sides, ASU and ARAMARK, are now in the middle of a 45-day negotiation period to work out the details of a contract, said John Riley, executive director of procurement and business services at ASU.

Riley said he thinks the two parties will agree on a contract sometime within the negotiating window.

"It's in the University's best interest and it's in ARAMARK's best interest to come up with a contract, so yes - I think we'll come up with a contract," he said.

With Sodexho's current contract ending this summer, a University committee began evaluating three food service providers in January to determine which would receive the contract. ARARMARK ranked the highest, the Compass Group was next and Sodexho finished last, Riley said.

The evaluations were based on many factors including past performance, the ability of the companies to identify potential risks, interviews with key managers and the financial compensation the firms offered ASU, Riley said.

Details of the financial compensation offered by the three firms will not be released until after a contract is reached, Riley said.

Officials from ARAMARK said they would not comment until after a contract has been reached.

Ben Hartley, Sodexho's resident district manager, said he was disappointed in the University's decision, but he said there was a fair chance for all three companies to bid for the contract.

"We're disappointed, we were personally committed to ASU," he said. "We thought we had a pretty good program and had some good ideas for the future. We're just disappointed the decision went the way it did.

"But it's a business decision and while we're disappointed, the system they set up to evaluate proposals is a very fair system."

If an agreement is reached with ARARMARK, four restaurants in the Memorial Union, Salsa Rico, Mein Bowl, Mediterranean Cafe and Pandini's, will no longer be around because they are Sodexho brands, Hartley said.

Devil's Diner, Pizza Vita and Fresh Verde Mix which are all located on north campus will be removed for the same reason, said Karen Levy, marketing director for Sodexho at ASU. Sodexho's Tempe catering service, Distinctive Catering, will be ousted too, she added.

ARARMARK will responsible for filling these voids.

Other restaurants on campus that are not Sodexho brands, such as Burger King and Starbucks, will have to negotiate new contracts with ARARMARK if they wish to remain at ASU, Hartley said.

Sodexho currently employs more than 800 employees at ASU, most of which should keep their jobs, Hartley said.

The University put a clause in the contracts of hourly employees that states once Sodexho is gone they will retain their positions, Hartley said. But he said managers are not granted this same protection and they could risk losing their jobs.

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