Behind the Dover Contract
By Thomas J. Johnson
For six years the students of Suffolk County Community College have had a single option of who to purchase food and drink from when eating on campus, Dover Hospitality Services.
Countless students have voiced their displeasure with Dover Hospitality Services, to the point where numerous open forums were held on campus for students, staff and faculty to air their grievances with the company in public. Though almost universally despised by students, Dover Hospitality Services still remains as the only option for student dining and catering for student organizations.
The College has been steadily licensing the food service space in the Babylon Student Center cafeteria for going on six years, and as of July 1, 2010 the agreement has been extended and additional 5 years to June 30, 2015.
The terms of the licensing agreements include many specific terms that Dover Hospitality Services was supposed to fulfill in order to maintain the license. However, it is unclear as to whether or not the obligations were fulfilled.
Most prominent of the aforementioned terms of the licensing agreement comes in the form of Exhibit A-1 of the agreement, wherein Dover Hospitality Services agreed to “complete the renovations to the food service facility no later than January 17, 2010.” If not fulfilled, the college “may withdraw its permission to the five-year renewal term.”
A representative for Dover Food Services could not be reached for comment to confirm or deny whether or not said renovations were completed as per the licensing agreement.
However, numerous student workers that had been employed in the Babylon Student Center over the last 3 years all stated that no visible change has been made. “If they [Dover Hospitality Services] were working on it, I sure didn’t see or hear anything” said former Student Worker and Dover Hospitalities Services Employee Jennifer Chiodo.
It is unclear as to whether or not other food service options were considered, as the information pertaining to bids had not been released. James Amoroso, Vice President of Business and Financial Services could not be reached for comment.
The college’s move to renew was still a financial sound one according to official documents, which explains why Dover Hospitality Services will continue to operate in the space.
For example, according to official license agreement documentation, during the initial 5 year period from 2005-2010 Dover Hospitality Services agreed to pay exorbitant fees to the College. Among the terms, Dover Hospitality Services agreed to make a minimum of $270,000 in “capital improvements,” an annual payment of $25,000 “in lieu of the sale of pouring rights” in addition to paying the College commissions of 11-12 percent of the gross sales of food services, 15 percent on catering sales and 28 percent on sales made through vending machines.
Dover Hospitality Services’ requirement to pay the College taking a 11-28 percent commission on its sales undoubtedly has a large effect on the pricing on food in the cafeteria and vending machines, which average higher than food and vending services at other campuses and establishments, which has been one of the student body’s chief complaints about the company. “The food in the machines is way too expensive… If they were cheaper, like most other vending machines, I’d actually buy stuff from them.” said Liberal Arts major Kerri Dinofrio, 19.
With the company exerting it’s stranglehold on the college community for the last five years and the foreseeable future, it seems that whether or not the public likes Dover Hospitality Services will have no affect or influence on the College’s decision to keep them as the primary food proprietor on campus.
Additionally, with the mountain of fees Dover Hospitality Services pays the College for it’s license to operate in the space, on top of the massive cut that the College takes in commissions from the company, it seems unlikely that they will drop them and go with a different alternative.