AMHERST, Mass. – Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been selected as a winner in the Best Concept Awards given by Food Management magazine. A winner in the Best Renovation category, UMass Dining Services was honored for the Blue Wall, which reopened in September 2014 following a nine-month renovation.
A staple of campus life since the early 1970s, the Blue Wall was renovated in response to the announced construction of the neighboring Integrative Learning Center. Today, the Blue Wall is a state-of-the-art campus center eatery that focuses on sustainability and fresh, healthful food featuring 11 self-contained, European-inspired bistro-style concepts that offers millennial diners a casual, urban dining experience unlike any retail dining operation in the industry.
The new Blue Wall is a complete overhaul of a venerable campus retail dining venue that traditionally emphasized quick-serve choices for large numbers of customers. The new roster of dining concepts not only emphasizes quality—from upscale roasted meats and authentic gelatos to freshly rolled sushi and Niman Ranch burgers—but supports UMass Amherst’s sustainability mission with touches like 100-percent compostable disposables, organic/local ingredients where possible and facility design based on LEED Commercial Interiors Retail guidelines.
“This award is wonderful news for UMass and a high honor to our management team,” says Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass Amherst. “The success of this project is due to the culmination of efforts from the UMass Building Authority, Design & Construction Management, Bruner/Cott & Associates, our director of retail dining David Eichstaedt, the entire retail dining staff, and the support from Jim Sheehan, our vice chancellor for administration and finance. Our customers love the new Blue Wall for healthy, sustainable and delicious food and state-of-the-art facilities. We saw a big increase in satisfaction and customer counts. We are so proud of the facility and it is also a big draw to students, staff and visitors.”
Best Concept winners were announced on Food-Management.com on June 23. UMass Dining Services and other Best Concept winners will be honored at the 56th annual Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Conference in Dallas from Sept. 20-22.