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New Bon Appétit CWRU resident district manager Jim Boland seeks to reconnect with students through quality food

Jim+OBrien+%28right%29+is+leaving+CWRU+after+working+for+14+years+as+the+resident+district+manager+for+Bon+App%C3%A9tit+at+CWRU%2C+and+he+is+succeeded+by+Jim+Boland+%28left%29+who+aims+to+improve+the+CWRU+dining+experience.
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Jim O’Brien (right) is leaving CWRU after working for 14 years as the resident district manager for Bon Appétit at CWRU, and he is succeeded by Jim Boland (left) who aims to improve the CWRU dining experience.

At the end of last semester, former Bon Appétit at Case Western Reserve University’s Resident District Manager Jim O’Brien left CWRU after a 14-year career heading dining services. During his tenure, O’Brien oversaw the opening of Leutner Commons and the remodeling of Fribley Commons, all while also expanding meal plan enrollment to 3,600 students. O’Brien passes the torch to Bon Appétit at CWRU’s Director of Operations Jim Boland, who is a veteran in the field of large-scale catering—having worked with the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Guardians as part of Levy Restaurants—and has been a member of CWRU’s dining services team for over eight years. In this latest chapter, Boland, alongside a team of classically trained chefs and Bon Appétit District Manager Kristopher Murray, seeks to further the hospitality and focus on student engagement that O’Brien started.

Boland recognizes the value of good food and good hospitality in making students feel more comfortable. In order to achieve this, he wants to promote greater student engagement and feedback initiatives so that his team can continue to improve students’ dining experience. A project currently underway is Zingle, a platform that allows students to provide real-time feedback about their dining experience from their mobile devices. Students are able to relay their favorite dishes and cuisines that they wish to see more of or even just give a favorite employee a shoutout. The dining services team is dedicated to “address[ing] any questions or concerns” and seeks to respond to messages before the student leaves the dining establishment.

In addition to Zingle, Boland is improving transparency through more kitchen tours and weekly meetings with Undergraduate Student Government and Residence Hall Association leaders. Boland believes these meetings “ensure [they] continue to provide a great environment for students to relax, break bread together, and enjoy their time at CWRU.” Further, Bon Appétit’s from-scratch approach allows Boland and his team to easily “change menus based on student suggestions and feedback.” With this in mind, Boland hopes to bring “increased variety to both Leutner and Fribley to ensure [they] consistently provide new and exciting dishes for students to try.”

In the past, student responses to dining offerings have led to major changes in the dining program. Specifically, Boland pitched and oversaw the transformation of an old pizza fusion concept in Tomlinson to the beloved Local Taco, a restaurant that “offers students a truly delicious Mexican-inspired option while using many ingredients that are sourced from within 150 miles of campus.” In addition, he has been working to improve the efficiency of the Dunkin’ Donuts in Tinkham Veale University Center, which sees nearly 800 orders on weekdays. By implementing an express line for meal swipe users, Boland has seen a significant cut in wait time. Lastly, all around campus, Boland continues to accommodate gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and other diets through Bon Appétit’s SimplyOASIS concept and attempts to add “more vegetables to all plates while also providing more plant-based proteins and allowing animal products to complement meals.”

More recently, in the transition from GrubHub to the Transact Mobile Ordering app, Boland has been involved in helping students navigate obstacles and continuing to tweak the platform. Previously with GrubHub, “teams would open a location at the beginning of the day and receive 80-100 mobile orders all at once,” causing a “backlog of orders [that] would take a while to prepare.” However, “GrubHub’s functionality meant that once an order had been accepted, students would be notified that their orders would be ready sooner than was realistic.” Boland believes that, despite backlash from the student body, in the long term this platform’s ability to handle orders will allow for more accurate wait times and better quality service. For more guidance on Transact, students can visit CWRU’s Bon Appétit website.

Boland joined Bon Appétit at CWRU for its “amazing student, faculty, and staff community … [and] commitments to sustainability and local sourcing.” Moving forward, Boland’s mission is to continue to expand the “from-scratch approach and chef-driven kitchen principles” that are at the heart of this program, while still working to improve the dining experience for students through good food and “unreasonable hospitality.”

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About the Contributor
Shivangi Nanda, Executive Editor
Shivangi Nanda (she/her) is a third-year student majoring in cognitive science, with a minor in biology. When she isn’t writing, editing or thinking about The Observer, you can find her taking walks around campus, stress eating Mitchell’s before exam week or organizing her extensive sweatshirt collection. Owning her old soul, she spends weekends baking or visiting local bookstores in search of even more romance reads.

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