A rider student using the food pickup lockers.

“There’s no standing around waiting for the order to be ready. It’s a seamless transaction.”

Gourmet Dining Services, a division of Compass Group, serves students at Rider University in New Jersey, providing meals to its 4,000 students, faculty and staff daily. The company turned to Grubhub and Apex Order Pickup Solutions to optimize its online ordering system, making ordering and pickup more efficient for students while improving back-of-house operations.

The food pickup lockers from Apex also helped pave the way for national sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s to come to campus, giving students another popular meal option. “We were looking for something to enhance the mobile ordering we were already doing,” said Andrew Pignataro, AVP, Auxiliary Services, Rider University. Adding the Apex food pickup lockers has been beneficial to the students and Rider Dining’s staff. “It allows for the ‘wow’ for the students, and gives them a great product,” he added.

New dining and order pickup options 

Rider University and Gourmet Dining were also in talks with Jersey Mike’s Subs to bring a location to campus, but there wasn’t enough space in the dining areas to build out the chain’s traditional restaurant style. Gourmet Dining suggested using a ghost kitchen to prepare food behind the scenes, but the chain wanted to make sure their brand was maintained even without the normal restaurant buildout. 

“The lockers were the last piece to the puzzle,” said George Kuzma, VP of Business Development, Gourmet Dining. “We were able to do all of this while maintaining Jersey Mike’s brand integrity.” Jersey Mike’s also now enjoys exclusive use of the lockers for its orders. 

Easing mealtime rush 

Like most campuses, Rider University has peak times when students leave class and head to the dining halls to grab a meal. Using food pickup lockers helps give students the option to order ahead and pick up between classes.

“Students will order when they are 10 to 15 minutes out, knowing they’re going to be passing through and just be able to come in grab their food and be on their way,” said Pignataro. “It’s actually just that simple,” added Kuzma. “There’s no lines, no waiting to place an order and then pay for it.”

A guest scans order barcode at food pickup lockers.

“This gives us another level of metrics we can use to allow the back of the house to be very efficient.” 

Data drives better operations 

Integrating the pickup lockers into Rider Dining’s operations was seamless, and beneficial to both customer service and operations. “It helps everybody stay prepared,” Kuzma said. “This is just another level of metrics we can use to allow the back of the house to be very efficient.”

The technology also allows better communication between the Rider Dining Services staff and students. Pickup times are shared via mobile, which makes it easier to know when food can be ready for pickup, regardless of who is picking it up. “There’s no standing around waiting for the order to be ready. It’s a seamless transaction. They’re in, they hit the lockers and they’re out.” Pignataro said.

The back-of-the-house efficiency and convenience the food lockers provided also helped Rider University manage increased demand for contactless pickup brought on by the pandemic. “Covid hit us sideways, but we were already ahead of the curve and ready with contactless mobile ordering,” Pignataro said. “We’re able to sanitize the lockers between use, so it’s been a win-win-win for us.”

 

Read more about Apex food pickup lockers for higher education, and discover how easy it is to get started offering fast, contactless convenience for your guests.