After working in Linfield’s food service operation for six years, Bill Masullo is ready to see the school’s dining areas become “gathering places that create a sense of community and comfort”—for students, faculty and staff alike.
To that end, Linfield has extended its agreement with Sodexo for provision of residential dining services to the McMinnville Campus and included a host of new features—extended operating hours, expanded food options, renovation of Dillin Hall’s cafeteria space and O’Riley’s coffee shop space, and perhaps most eye-catching of all, the introduction of a full-service Starbucks.
“We are looking at a longer-term strategy,” said Masullo, who serves as general manager of Linfield’s residential dining operations. He said the new contract would cover about 12 years, serving to justify the investment.
The renovations at Dillin and O’Riley’s will not cost students a dime, either directly or indirectly, Masullo said. It won’t affect college finances, let alone student tuition and fees.
He said Linfield Sodexo had been considering the possibility of making a sizable new investment for several years.
“The school outsources to me,” he said, “so we thought, ‘Here’s something we can do.’ I told them what I had in mind, and Sodexo said yes to the investment.”
Masullo championed the idea of bringing an outside coffee shop to campus, and Starbucks was an obvious choice.
Linfield’s O’Riley’s will become a fully licensed Starbucks in time for a spring opening.
Sodexo employees will manage the outlet with the help of student workers.
The on-campus Starbucks will feature the company’s whole food program, with everything prepared on-site, Masullo said. Students will be able to use Cat Cash from the meal plan to make purchases.
Masullo said some people have expressed concern about potential competition between the on-campus Starbucks and the local Starbucks, which is right off campus.
But he said, “Our business is residential. I don’t think it will put the other Starbucks out of business. It won’t bring outside customers in.”
Others have voiced apprehension about bringing a big corporation to campus, in light of Linfield’s slogan “The Power of a Small College.”
“Sodexo is an international corporation, same as Starbucks. It’s not feasible for smaller coffee shops to come in,” said Nic Miles, president of the Associated Students of Linfield College.
“Linfield’s café used to be student-run in the ’90s. That didn’t work, Miles added.
“Students should stop associating the college’s business ventures with our academics. The ‘Power of Small’ is rooted in our education, not where we buy our coffee.”
Besides bringing in Starbucks, Masullo also wants to renovate the current café space by knocking down a few walls and implementing an open floor plan.
“We are bringing functionality,” he said.
Masullo added that the new space would open up more programming opportunities for Dan Fergueson, Linfield’s director of college activities, and his crew.
“It’s a step toward the Student Union. We have a need for a student space. The Board of Trustees knows we want it, but we haven’t shown it, Miles said.
“We want to turn the Fred Meyer Lounge into a more communal spot.”
Masullo also unveiled plans to renovate Dillin Hall, to create a late-night gathering place for students.
“Dillin has held up great, but we have new cooking techniques and are ready for something new,” Masullo explained.
He already has a preliminary floor plan drawn up. His vision includes several lounge areas, high and low seating, a coffee bar and a diner area.
He wants to open up the west wing for additional seating; re-do the salad bar and cooking spaces; add a private, glass-wall room; and carve out a bistro area.
“It’ll be a place where students can hang out with friends, study or watch TV,” Masullo said. “I think the renovations will better student interests and improve student retention for the meal plan.”
Masullo, along with Allison Horn, director of auxiliary services, will be hosting design discussions to share ideas and conceptual drawings Nov. 13 in Dillin Hall.
“It’s a jumping-off point for conversation. We hope to gather feedback after all the information has been presented,” Horn said.
Masullo hopes to firm up plans by early spring and complete the Dillin work by the fall of 2013.
“Students should be excited about what’s coming,” Miles said. “It’s going to be big.”
Jessica Prokop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.