East Tennessee State University

In September 2015, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) hired Porter Khouw Consulting to assist the University with completing a campus-wide dining service master plan and with rebidding its foodservice contract to clearly define the foodservice operations for the future. At the time our firm was engaged by the University, ETSU was in the preliminary stages of planning and programming a comprehensive renovation for the D.P. Culp Student Center. This facility is the center of student life and is home to a majority of the foodservice operations on campus in both a retail and residential capacity. The University recognized that it was critical that as part of this initiative that there was a clear and concise program in place for the foodservice operation, in order to inform the design process. To complicate factors, the University was experiencing a high dissatisfaction from students and other campus community members regarding with its campus dining program, services and offerings. Our team spent three days on campus touring the venues and observing operations, as well as conducting focus groups and personal interviews with a wide variety of constituents including students, faculty/staff and administrators. This qualitative market research was used to create a customized web-based survey which was distributed campus wide.

Our team then analyzed all of the market research and developed preliminary recommendations regarding the optimum, next generation dining program for ETSU. Our forward-thinking plan created a comprehensive short-term and long-term strategy which defined the operations and transition over time from the existing facilities to future facilities. Our recommendations included implementing Social Architecture ™ and Anytime Dining (unlimited access) to The Market Place and a residential carry-out program in the Treehouse, expanded service and hours at residential and retail venues on campus, student friendly and value-added meal plan options, recommendations regarding expanded menu variety and selection, a new customer-friendly and easy-to-use catering program and more. Our recommendations were embraced by the University and our team used these recommendations to competitively rebid the University’s foodservice business.

As part of this process, PKC facilitated a bidding process where we required qualified bidders to submit proposals to operate the optimum dining program as outlined in the detailed RFP using recommendations provided by PKC and approved by ETSU. PKC also required bidders to provide a transition plan in order to ensure that summer camps would have guaranteed foodservice and that the new dining program would be in place for Fall 2016.

PKC provided a thorough written evaluation of all of the bids using a customized and proven scoring method and our evaluation scored the proposals in order to allow PKC and ETSU to create a short list of companies to interview. PKC facilitated the finalist interview process and assisted the University with contract negotiations. The university’s new foodservice contract commenced on July 1, 2016.

In addition to the planning and operator selection services, our firm was hired by the University to collaborate and assist the design team with developing the plan and space program for the renovation of the D.P. Culp Center.