When Dawyn Patterson was growing up, she said, she always wanted to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, a global leader in the education of women of African descent. Her path took her elsewhere, but today she’s the general manager for dining services at the College and “I’m thrilled to be here now,” she says.
Bon Appétit is also thrilled to welcome Spelman to our family as our first Historically Black College & University (HBCU). “It is a great honor to have the opportunity to serve the Spelman community,” says Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio. “I’m inspired by Spelman’s mission to empower women to engage the many cultures of the world and spark a commitment to positive social change through service. Our team is excited to work with Spelman to learn how we can support this mission through culinary programming and responsible sourcing while nourishing the world’s future leaders.”
The Bon Appétit team in Atlanta got to campus right after commencement. They hired a design firm and undertook a major renovation over the summer to open the main café in August, and over the next six weeks, continued to transform the space. Toward the end of September, they opened Roam restaurant and Spelman After Dark, a late-night lounge and hangout destination open to the campus community on the weekends.
The refresh has been a hit with the students across the board, says Kellie Piper, the district manager for this region. To integrate what the students are looking for, says Kellie, the onsite team – led by Dawyn – has been getting out into the café and talking to students about what kind of food they’d like to see on the menu. Roam, points out Kellie, is named for its “roaming menu,” which will rotate each semester based on student feedback. The current Caribbean-themed menu will likely be followed by other cuisines of the African diaspora.
On Friday and Saturday nights, says Dawyn, students line up all evening to sample the small plates menu inspired by the Atlanta food truck scene, and to hang, request music, dance, and relax. Spelman After Dark has a clubby vibe, but if students want something quieter, they can always go to the restaurant side of the space. “The point with that was inclusivity,” says Kellie. “You can come by yourself, or with a group, have food, have dinner, come in later and have food, and just relax. Students can come and go as they please,” she says.
And students are flocking to it. “We get asked about [the lounge] every day in the café,” Dawyn says. And the feedback has been positive. “They love the change,” says Dawyn.
For Dawyn, Kellie, and their whole team, being at Spelman and having it be Bon Appetit’s first HBCU is an honor.
“We were humbled when we were awarded the contract,” said Kellie. “It’s so exciting, we hold ourselves to a very high standard, and we’re relentlessly trying to make things perfect every day.”