Aramark, Georgetown University’s food service provider, initiated management of on-campus dining locations Epicurean and Company and Bulldog Tavern beginning Aug. 23.
The transition comes months after about 30 Georgetown food service employees protested and striked Feb. 27 and April 4 after their contract with Aramark expired in December 2018. As negotiations began for a new contract, workers complained of low wages, unfair break times and disrespectful management.
Aramark and UNITE HERE Local 23, the labor union representing Aramark employees, reached a temporary contract negotiation April 15, quelling the protests. Georgetown consulted with the Advisory Committee on Business Practices and reviewed the university’s Just Employment Policy during the management transition at the two locations.
“We look forward to continuing to provide a high-quality dining experience across our on-campus dining locations,” university spokesperson Rachel Pugh wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Although the university owns all dining property, Aramark also manages O’Donovan Hall, Leo’s Market, the Chick-fil-A in the Leavey Center, Crop Chop, Royal Jacket and the Einstein Bros. Bagels in Car Barn. Bulldog Tavern was previously under the management of Aramark until Epicurean took over in August 2018.
The menu at Epicurean will also be reviewed this fall pending potential alterations, according to Karen Cutler, Aramark’s vice president of communications and public affairs.
“The menu and program for Epicurean and Company restaurant will be evaluated over the fall semester and we will be soliciting feedback from the community to help determine any future changes,” Cutler wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Temporarily shortened hours at Epicurean, long known as Georgetown’s only 24-hour dining location, upset several returning students this fall, according to Epicurean regular Olivia Blumberg (COL ’22).
“My friends and I have a habit of going to Epi’s on the weekends and taking advantage of their late hours,” Blumberg said in an interview with the Hoya. “It was really disappointing to come back to school and find it was closed on the weekends.”
Despite some initial confusion among the Georgetown community about 11 p.m. closures, Epicurean will resume 24-hour service Thursday through Saturday on Sept. 5, according to the restaurant.
This most recent management transition marks the second time Aramark has owned Bulldog Tavern. The Healey Family Student Center restaurant was previously managed by Aramark from May 2017 until July 27, 2018, when the contract switched to Epicurean.
UNITE HERE Local 23 filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 alongside two former Bulldog Tavern Aramark employees against Epicurean for alleged workers’ rights violations. The 2018 lawsuit was one in a series of lawsuits against Epicurean, including instances in 2015 and 2012.
During the summer management transition period, Epicurean and Bulldog Tavern workers could elect to keep their current job, according to Cutler. Aramark also worked with UNITE HERE Local 23 to create a collective bargaining agreement.
“All Epicurean and Bulldog Tavern employees were offered to continue their employment, if they wished to continue working on campus,” Cutler wrote. “Aramark employees working on campus are represented a union (UNITE HERE) collective bargaining agreement that covers all of the terms and conditions of their employment.”
Although UNITE HERE Local 23 launched several strikes against Aramark over the summer, none were on Georgetown’s campus, according to Sarah Jacobson, the Aramark director for the Washington, D.C. food service district.
The off-campus Aramark strikes pertaining to other universities gained attention this summer when 295 workers unionized with UNITE HERE Local 23 striked at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, according to the DCist. Aramark took over management at the center in April and since then workers have called for raises to meet the D.C. cost of living, health insurance protections, scheduling changes to prevent outsourcing and conversations around the increasing role of technology in the workplace.
Other anti-Aramark student and worker protests have sparked at colleges including New York University and American University. Officials at American investigated alternative food providers in response to student meal price increases. NYU chose not to renew Aramark’s contract following a series of protests around Aramark’s role as a food service provider to the private prison industry.