Sammy's Cafe at Kirkwood changes hands
Kirkwood hotel to take over operations; Sodexo exits
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 08:07
Sammy's Cafe will be operated by The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, starting June 11.
The Hotel, under the direction of General Manager Lee Belfield and Executive Chef Melanie Ewalt, will take over operations from Sodexo, a French-based food service company that has operated the cafe since fall 2010, when it was still known as Sammy's Kafe. Before that, Kirkwood operated the cafeteria.
The management change was announced Thursday in Tempo, an electronic newsletter that goes to faculty and staff at Kirkwood.
"Kirkwood and Sodexo came to a mutual agreement today that it would be best for the college and our students for operations of Sammy’s to be served by our own staff," according to Tempo.
The newsletter continued:
"Chef Mel will be putting together a team to operate Sammy’s over the next 30-60 days. Operations and offerings at Sammy’s over the months of June and July will likely continue to be primarily beverage and grab & go items.
"Chef Mel and her Sammy’s team will develop a full line of menu offerings over the next 60 days and expect to be in full operation for the start of the fall semester in August.
"As we transition back to operating Sammy’s with our internal staffing, we ask for patience and encouragement for the Sammy’s staff as they come up to speed for the fall semester."
Sodexo's manager left during spring semester, and Sammy's new leadership sought input from patrons. By the end of spring semester, Sammy's had lowered prices on some items.
Sammy's Cafe is on the second floor of Iowa Hall on the Cedar Rapids campus. The cafeteria was remodeled last year as part of an Iowa Hall upgrade.
In addition to its breakfast and lunch menu, Sammy's serves Starbucks coffee and drinks as well as Freshens smoothies. It took over coffee and smoothies last year when operations were moved from the C-Store in Benton Hall. The C-Store has since closed and will be transformed into Eagle Tech, a technology store.
Ewalt, the hotel's executive chef, holds two degrees from Kirkwood, one in liberal arts and the other in culinary arts. She started at Kirkwood as a student in 1994 and graduated from the Culinary Arts program in 2000, according to the Communique's archives.
The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, located on the south edge of Kirkwood's main campus in Cedar Rapids, opened in late summer 2012. It houses Kirkwood's Hospitality Arts and Culinary Arts programs. Students work alongside hospitality and culinary professionals who are on Kirkwood's faculty.
The Hotel is one of only two hotels in Iowa to have earned the Four Diamond rating from AAA.