San Jose State University

Spartan Shops, Inc. at San Jose State University hired Porter Khouw Consulting to create a campus-wide dining services master plan for the University as well as to prepare a preliminary schematic for a new convenience store on the ground level of MacQuarrie Hall.

The major driving force of this project was the University’s plan to renovate and make extensive changes to the Student Union and the nearby cafeteria building. The existing union was somewhat outdated and undersized and lacked sufficient and attractive meeting space. The University’s goal was to renovate this building to create a contemporary and inviting campus student hub where commuter and residential students, along with other members of the campus community and visitors, can gather to study, meet or grab a bite to eat. As part of this project, the University planned to tear down the cafeteria building and consolidate all foodservice offerings for the Student Union into the new renovated building. As part of our market research, our team studied the initial report from the planning team regarding the overall Student Union project and we kept the goals outlined in that document in mind as we interviewed students and drafted our recommendations.

Our team kicked off this project by spending three days on campus where we immersed ourselves in the campus culture. We toured the campus and all of the dining venues as well as conducted focus groups and interviews with students (resident and non-resident), faculty, staff and administrators in order to learn more about campus customers’ perceptions of the campus dining program. We used this information to create a web-based survey to further confirm and/or challenge these perceptions and to evaluate how campus customers might react to possible changes to the dining program including different meal plan options and services. More than 1,000 customers responded to the survey.

After analyzing the results of the survey and our qualitative market research, we presented our findings and preliminary recommendations to Spartan Shops administrators. Our recommendations included proposed branded concepts for the soon-to-be renovated Student Union, meal plan options that would provide the students with more flexibility and suggestions regarding product mix and hours of operation at all of the campus dining venues. All of our recommendations were summarized and presented in narrative form to the University in a final report, which also included the preliminary schematic for the new convenience store in MacQuarrie Hall.

In addition, we also provided recommendations for the residential dining programming (including extended hours of operation and significant program enhancements to the Dining Commons) that have resulted in higher meal plan sales and much higher satisfaction. Since residential dining is the backbone of most campus dining programs, we identified ways that SJSU could take a facility that was dated and where students really didn’t want to eat and transform it though some remodeling and new menu options that have turned it into a much more successful operation. The enhancements to this facility include a new modern pizza/pasta station, a branded coffee bar and a full service Jamba Juice where meal plan holders can get as many smoothies as they’d like each day.

Our team is also partnered with Spartan Shops and Perkins+Will on the renovation of the Student Union.