Housing and Dining wins prestigious Ivy Award

Erin Dorsey rings up a customer at Bing’s Cafe in Weatherford Hall. Bing’s is one of 17 restaurants and cafes run by Housing & Dining Services, which has just been named an Ivy Award winner. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Erin Dorsey rings up a customer at Bing’s Cafe in Weatherford Hall. Bing’s is one of 17 restaurants and cafes run by Housing & Dining Services, which has just been named an Ivy Award winner. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Mid-afternoon sunlight filters into the curtained windows of Bing’s Café in Weatherford Hall, as a few students sit in front of their laptops and sip coffee during Dead Week. Behind the counter, a group of student employees is taking advantage of the slow down to clean dishes, re-stock and keep the kitchen sparkling, all under the watchful eye of assistant manager Carol Lenz.

But as 3 p.m. approaches, the restaurant goes from desolate to packed within a matter of minutes.

“Welcome to 3 o’clock,” Lenz said with a laugh.

Bing’s is one of 17 restaurants and cafes in four buildings around campus under the umbrella of Oregon State University’s Housing and Dining Services. Housing and Dining has just been named this year’s Ivy Award Winner by Restaurants & Institutions Magazine for its demonstration of the highest standard of excellence in food, service and overall hospitality. The award places HDS in the company of internationally recognized restaurants ranging from French Laundry to Le Cirque, and is one of the most prestigious awards in the industry.

The award was established in 1971 as a way for industry professionals to honor colleagues and peers and truly define what it takes to become a “restaurateur of distinction.” Honorees are selected from across industry segments, including fine dining, hotels and noncommercial operations.

Since its inception, the Ivy Award has become the ultimate recognition for the best and brightest in foodservice. Past winners include some of America’s most famous universities, such as University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Stanford University and Harvard University, as well as restaurants include the “21” Club, Le Cirque, Union Square Café, Frontera Grill, Emeril’s and French Laundry.

For Lenz, the award is a reflection of the hard work her students do every day.

“I would put this team against anybody, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” Lenz said. She said she and her crew work hard and have high expectations, but their dedication is reflected in the service they provide their customers.

Students gather at Bing's during Dead Week.

Students gather at Bing's during Dead Week.

Rich Turnbull, associate director of University Housing and Dining Services, would agree.

“This award demonstrates the commitment that the employees of University Housing And Dining Services have to serving Oregon State University by providing culinary excellence and friendly hospitality,” Turnbull said. “I am both humbled and incredibly proud that our Dining Services Team has been honored in this way.”

Michelle Hancock is a junior in human development and family sciences, with a minor in restaurant management. Not only does Lenz work around Hancock’s class schedule, but the job is applicable to her future career.

“I’d rather do this than something that doesn’t apply (to my future),” she said.

Over the years University Housing and Dining has stressed four fundamental principles:
• 100 percent safe food 100 percent of the time
• Culinary Excellence
• Outstanding Customer Service
• Sound business plan

HDS has funded and supported advanced training through the ServSafe Program. To develop and actualize a sound business plan they have involved each of their concept leaders and management staff members in budget development and monthly financial reviews.

“For Oregon State University to receive this award is a wonderful honor and a great reward for our staff members who begin their day at 4 a.m. preparing food to serve the campus community,” Turnbull said.

Back at Bing’s, Lenz took over the cash register to help thin down the crowd, and kept a smile ready as she whizzed customers through the line, while she called out, “She’s in, she’s out, she’s gone!”

~ Theresa Hogue

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