Each year, the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) recognizes outstanding initiatives from its membership with its Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards program.
Named for a NACUFS founder, past president, and highly regarded innovator, the awards celebrate exemplary menus, presentations, special event planning, and new dining concepts, and provide an avenue for sharing ideas and creative presentations in campus dining services. NACUFS bestows Gold, Silver and Bronze recognition (plus Honorable Mentions) in six areas: Residential Dining Concepts, Residential Dining–Special Event, Residential Dining Facility, Retail Sales–Single/Multiple Concept/Marketplace, Catering– Special Event, and Catering–Online Menu, with awards given in small, medium, and large school categories.
In May, the Bon Appétit team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia was thrilled to learn that their submission for the newly renovated Houston Market had won a Gold Award for Retail Sales/Marketplace in the large school category — with a perfect score of 50 out of 50. And in July they were further elated to capture the Grand Prize in the large school category at the NACUFS 2019 National Conference!
As the nation’s oldest student union, Houston Hall has long been the primary gathering place on Penn’s campus. This role has become even more critical to the university’s mission since the launch of Penn’s Wellness Initiative (see facing page). As part of that effort, the university endeavored to create safe and welcoming spaces where students can build healthy, nurturing, and supportive relationships, foster genuine connections, and offer support to others.
In order for Houston Hall to fulfill the role of being a central campus community space, having a large dining facility located there was an essential component. The goal of renovating Houston Hall was to provide a more convenient, welcoming, and enjoyable experience for the Penn community with healthy choices, selections that accommodate diverse tastes, and a comfortable environment for grab-and-go dining as well as for longer conversations and studying.
Several years in the planning, the breakneck three-month renovation added new ordering kiosks and charging stations, appealing new food concepts, and enhanced lighting and seating, while maintaining Houston Hall’s historic properties and implementing new sustainable practices. All of these elements and more were captured in a special 92-page book put together for the NACUFS application by Marketing Manager Beth Bayrd, Marketing Coordinator Sean Lewis, and Resident District Manager Bill Hess. Divided into sections for menus and meals, facility design and merchandising, marketing, nutrition and wellness, and additional considerations, the book’s photos, menus, drawings, signage, social media posts, and even actual production sheets made a successful case for why Houston Market is on the cutting edge of campus dining.
Submitted by Beth Bayrd, Marketing Manager