Getting to know Montana Vicks
Last fall semester of 2022, I started my internship at Metz here at Niagara University. While working here, I have learned lots of things related to the internship, but also, I have learned about all the hard work that is put on to make students happy, all the effort that every single worker at Metz puts on every day to provide the best for them and how everyone works together. Here I have also seen many great people who focus on working hard and envision and aspire to help others grow and help them learn more and become better people and co-workers.
One of the many great people that work here at Metz is Montana Vicks, who is the general manager here. He is a great example of someone who not only works hard but also focuses on helping others and creating a better working environment for them, and trying to get anything but the best out of each co-worker.
Montana has a lot of experience in his work; he has been involved in the food industry for about 22 years, starting from food and beverage, executive chef, facility management, warehouse and receiving to operations managing profit loss and vendor management. Montana shared with us that he has been very passionate about this industry since a very young age. When he was in high school, he loved baking cakes for state fairs and participating in BBQ competitions.
Right after graduating from high school, Montana joined the US army as a food service specialist and earned a bachelor's in culinary arts and Hotel Management from Keiser University and a master's degree in Clinical Psychology at the same university. He joined the officer ranks as a chief Warrant officer right after returning to the USA from Afghanistan, where he had to retire due to combat wounds he suffered there. He is also the owner of Pastor Monty's Kitchen, which he is very excited to re-open in January 2024. He not only got the bachelor's mentioned before and his master's, but he also has another bachelor's in organizational business management from Ashford University.
As we can see, Metz has well-prepared people who work here and bring their best qualities to improve this place. However, it also had to drive Montana to choose between forming part of this corporate at Niagara University. These were the words that he shared about what made him come here. "Niagara University is unique, not just in its culture but incredibly rich in its student investment; this was a no-brainer. The commitment that you witness and hear from faculty and the Father about its dedication for molding our students for better is inspiring as we keep focus." – Montana Vicks.
Just like Montana shared, Niagara is a very well-dedicated school that cares for its students and just looks for the best for them, and cares for hiring the best people they can find that will bring a lot to the table, just Montana Vicks does.
Campus Dining Currency
Niagara University has different locations where students can get food, drinks, and snacks. One of the first locations is the food court that can be found at the Gallagher Center which has five places where students can get food. The first one is Tim Hortons where they serve a really good cup of coffee, then Subway which is the world´s largest submarine sandwich chain, another one of the food places that they count with is Poblano´s where they serve burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. The Grove is more like a store where they sell snacks, cold drinks and frozen dinners, and last but not least they have Gally Grill which by the name we can get an idea of what they sell which are grilled sandwiches, hot dogs, French fries, burgers and more.
The other two locations that the campus has is the newly opened We Proudly Serve Starbucks that is at the Dwyer Arena and the Dining Commons located in Clet Hall.
All the locations at the university have any type of payment that can be card or cash and there is another type of the payment that the university has that is the currency they work with, this currency is Gally Gold. Gally Gold is money put on the students ID´s and they can use that money to pay in any of these places mentioned before and it is also cheaper when purchasing products with Gally Gold, the reason why it is cheaper is because Gally Gold is free of taxes meaning that students are saving an 8% on their purchases. At the dining commons students get a plan at the beginning of the year where that plan is formed by a certain number of swipes to get into the dinning commons, another certain amount of guest swipes in case they are inviting someone who doesn’t have a meal plan and they also get certain amount of Gally Gold for the semester. Commuter students also have the option to choose from other three types of meal plans that have less swipes and less Gally Gold since they don’t leave on campus and won’t need to go the dining common as a regular student does. Also, students have the option to just put Gally Gold in their ID´s without getting a meal plan.
The two options of meal plan for resident students are “carte blanche unlimited meal plan” which by the name is very explanatory that is unlimited in swipes for the dining commons and comes with $100 in Gally Gold and eight guest swipes. The second one is the purple plan which comes with 12 swipes per week, $250 Gally Gold and six guest swipes.
For the commuter students there is the first plan which has 32 swipes for the whole semester and 200 Gally Gold, option two comes with 45 swipes and 350 Gally Gold, and for option three it comes with 80 swipes and 400 Gally Gold. For every plan the cost changes depending on the quantity of swipes, Gally Gold and guest swipes (included in the resident’s plans).
In the month of September Metz at Niagara University introduced the new Street Eats promotion in the Dining Commons. This promotion started by presenting the dish loaded fries which consisted of a plate of fresh, crispy French fries accompanied with other toppings. The promotion presented three different types of loaded fries, the first is “loaded beef brisket fries” which comes with melted cheese on top and the delicious beef brisket that is cooked at the dining commons. The second one is loaded bruschetta fries which is accompanied with tomatoes, balsamic, basil and garlic. The last one that was presented was the loaded Greek gyro fries which will have the same topping as a gyro.
A few students were interviewed when this new promotion was presented to know what thoughts
they had on this new plate. Mercedes Velasco, a sophomore at the university,
said that she was very pleased with the loaded fries, “The new loaded fries that they gave at
Clet were so good, I got to try all three different toppings and all of them were really good that it was
hard to choose which one was my favorite, but I think the beef brisket ones were my top one”. From interviewing other students, I concluded that the loaded fries were a success.
Moving to the month of October the new promotion presented is quesadillas, there were four
different types of quesadillas presented and they were a mix of sweet and salty. The recipes were
the following: elote quesadilla, Buffalo popcorn shrimp quesadilla, strawberry chocolate dessert
quesadilla and peanut butter banana quesadilla. From interviewing students at the dining
commons, we got really good feedback and reviews about the quesadillas. One of the favorites was
the Buffalo popcorn shrimp quesadilla and to follow we received really good reviews about the
elote quesadilla and strawberry chocolate dessert. The students mentioned that they really liked
the strawberry chocolate quesadilla since that would almost turn into a crêpe and they were just
great as dessert.
Since receiving lots of good feedback about these presented promotions we are looking forward
to continuing using these recipes and to introduce new ones like the one for the upcoming month
of November which will be poutine.
Before I became a marketing intern, I started at Metz as a foodservice worker and had the opportunity to work at different stations and get to know many people. I noticed that our foodservice team members at Metz are all dedicated people in their work. The people here have really impressed me and changed my way of thinking. They told me how they love this job and how feeding the kids makes them feel happy. Their happiness every day at work is seeing the students smile and be happy with the food we make for them. I really want to brag about how great our employees at Metz at Niagara really are, but I want to talk about two of the best co-workers and friends in my heart, Mrs. Audrey and Mrs. Danielle.
As far as I know, Audrey has been with Metz for more than 15 years. She is currently working at Tim Hortons at Gallagher Center. At work, Audrey is a very focused and hardworking person. She always puts her guests first and tries to fulfill their requests as best as she can. Audrey makes sure that all guests are informed about allergens in all the drinks and baked goods. There is a fact that I cannot help but mention, Audrey is a clean freak. She always tries to keep the counter clean front and back. At the slow times, you almost never see Audrey standing there doing nothing. She always keeps herself busy cleaning either within the station, or in the back of the kitchen, or helping someone. Audrey not only strives to do her job well, but she also considers it a good thing to help people get things done together. While working with her, I learned a lot from her to become detail-oriented and want to help people more. Outside of work, Audrey is a very caring person. She loves to surprise her co-workers with small gifts on their birthdays or holidays. Sometimes I just said that I like a beanie or sweater, and then I did not even remember what I said, Audrey kept all of that in her mind and knitted them for me. Although there are so many wonderful team members in Gally, Audrey always holds a special place in my heart.
Another team member that I only had a chance to know recently when I became a marketing intern and worked at Dining Commons is Danielle. I had the opportunity to meet her quite a few times while I was working at Tim Hortons at Gally. My first impression was that she was funny and easygoing. As I work at Dining Commons and get to know her, I love her even more. As far as I know, Danielle has been with Metz for 27 years and she works at the Main Plate. She, like Audrey, is always trying to make sure students know about the allergens. I am grateful that Danielle sometimes helps me when I am busy preparing giveaway snacks for the students, or when I put out decorations around Dining Commons for holidays or events. Danielle always tries to put a smile on every student coming in our Dining Commons. She makes my day at work full of positive energy and joy.
I feel we are very fortunate to have such wonderful individuals as Audrey and Danielle in the Metz team. The contributions of Audrey and Danielle in particular and that of the entire Metz at Niagara team in general, have helped our corporation grow even more. I cannot ask for any team more than our Metz at Niagara, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to study and work here.
Dining Through the Winter Games
Winter games fever has spread to every corner of the world. This event is not only a time when people from different countries get together in the exciting atmosphere of the game and support their home team, but in my opinion, this is also the time when the culture and cuisine of different countries are interfering. Although it is a cold winter at Niagara University, the atmosphere during the last week has never been hotter with the spirit of enthusiastic cheering for the team USA through this world championships. We are celebrating the games and all the medal-winning moments with special international dishes at Dining Commons and Gallagher Center.
To kick off the ceremonies, we served sauteed chicken cutlets in a lemon-butter and white wine sauce called Chicken Francaise. Along with that, we also had Italian Herb and Parmesan Roasted Potatoes, Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts, and not missing out on the menu, Orange Thyme Roasted Beets.
Moreover, to add some more global flavors to the Red, White & Taste this year, Korean BBQ Chicken Burger was chosen, with the flavorful Asian Inspired Coleslaw. Not to mention the buns have never been so shiny, and the plate was never near perfection without some golden French Fries placed on the side.
In the future, we will be featuring other international recipes at the Dining Commons and Gallagher Center. Be sure to be on the lookout for Alchemist Green Tea bars at the Bakery in the Dining Commons soon.
You Talked and We Listened
We have always acknowledged that our guests feedback plays an integral part in creating a successful dining experience. Therefore, we conducted a survey to collect students’ thoughts on how they think about the food, service and what they expect to see on our menu as well as future activities, thereby helping us improve our dining services and be able to bring more variety and quality meals to our students. We have received lots of feedback through the survey from both students and faculty. First of all, we are very thankful and proud to receive many good reviews about our services. On the other hand, we are also aware of the problems that we and our students are experiencing, and we are working to fix them day by day.
In terms of shortcomings, the first and most urgent problem that needs to be resolved quickly is that plates, cups and utensils are dirty. We have addressed this issue and talked to our team members to fix this problem, but we apologize that this situation has occurred. The second issue that we saw as a common occurrence in the survey is about the pink chicken. One factor that leads to the chicken resembling the color pink is due to the ingredients we use to marinate the meat which is red wine vinegar. We are going to eliminate the red wine vinegar and find an alternative ingredient. We will closely monitor the stages from preliminary processing to serving to ensure the quality of the food is always up to standard. Another shortcoming needed to be mentioned is the lack of variety of food options. The majority of survey respondents would like to see more plant-based options, more dairy-free options, Asian foods, healthy foods, especially the return of smoothie bar. We plan to have Bravo! in the Dining Commons open this semester with a variety of menus. However, due to a shortage of team members, we are sorry for not being able to open this station to serve our students. We are looking at a solution to open Bravo! one day a week because we understand how much students are looking forward to the food at Bravo. We also plan to bring smoothies and toasties back to Bravo! Express in the Gallagher Center, but due to a manufacturing issue with our ice machine, that has been delayed. Look for them soon!
Besides the challenges that need to be overcome, we are also very appreciative and proud to be recognized for our swift and friendly services. And to achieve such a good service, it is mainly thanks to the help and hard work of our wonderful team members. Students also prefer the convenience and accessibility when dining with Metz since they do not have to go far to get food when they are hungry, but the food is always served hot and fresh at Dining Commons until 10:30 at night, Sunday through Thursday. Moreover, students find the take-out option is very convenient which allow them to bring their favorite food items to their dorm. Last but not least, we also received lots of positive comments for our desserts at the Bakery, especially the cupcakes in the Halloween Theme Dinner were very popular. Students also love how we also have different vegan options that are always fresh and delicious.
This survey has given us more insight into issues and also gave us lots of ideas for improving the quality of food and service. We will always listen to our guests’ thoughts in the future to further improve and increase the value of not only Metz at Niagara in particular, but also Metz Culinary Management in general.
Understanding Gallagher Gold
Here at Niagara University, students are given variety of choices in terms of dining pass in order to offer them flexibility to eat at any dining facilities. There are two main types of meal plans that Metz offers which are Resident Students Meal Plan or Commuter Meal Plans, and for both kind of meal plan, there is also Gallagher Gold included. In terms of Resident Plans, students have two options to choose between Carte Blanche Meal Plan with unlimited access per week plus $100 Gallagher Gold, and Purple Meal Plan with 12 meal swipes per week plus $250 in Gallagher Gold. Students, who are residents at Seton, O’shea, O’Donoughe and Lynch, are automatically assigned for Resident Plans. In addition, Varsity Village’s residents can add meal plan which costs $3,300 per semester. Resident Meal Plans also include guest tickets for students to invite their friends, approximately eight guest swipes for Carte Blanche plan and six swipes for Purple plan.
For students who are commuters, they can purchase among three following meal plan options: 32 entrances per semester with $200 Gallagher Gold for $550, 45 entrances with $300 in Gallagher Gold for $790, or 80 entrances with $400 in Gallagher Gold for $1270.
As regards to Gallagher Gold is only valid for usage in three locations: The Gallagher Center and the Russel J. Salvatore Dining Commons and Talon’s Premium Club. All meal plans include a contribution to this fund. Gallagher Gold allow students who do not have meal plan or out of meal swipes, can eat at Dinning Commons or grab some coffee at Tim Hortons, get a sub at Subway or meals at Poblano's and Gally Grill. Students can add more funds to Gallagher Gold on their MyNu account. On purchases made using Gallagher Gold, they will not be required to pay sales tax (which is presently 8 percent). Gallagher Gold money that has been set aside for sales tax savings must be spent by the Friday of graduation week in May, otherwise the funds will be forfeited.
Besides Gallagher Gold, Campus Funds is another form of dollar-for-dollar currency that allows students eat anywhere on campus that accept Student ID cards. It can be used to eat at Dinning Commons, Talon’s Premium Club and buy drinks at vending machines. Students can also use it at Gallagher Center, however, you will be subject to tax on your purchases. Furthermore, the money in this account is carried over from one year to the next without being cleared away when the school year ends.
Mentioned Talon’s Premium Club, in this new school year, Metz has been opening Talons which is a sport bar and restaurant located on the second floor in Dwyer Arena, and both Gallagher Gold and Campus Funds can be used to buy all food and drinks there. However, in terms of buying alcohol, there are slight restrictions between them. Gallagher Gold account holders all ages can not buy alcohol at Talons. Otherwise, they are able to pay by cash or card. Campus Funds can be used to buy alcohol at Talons, but only 2 drinks at most.
One last thing to be kept in mind, students must present their own ID card when enter Dinning Commons or make any purchases with Gallagher Gold or Campus Funds. This is mandatory to prevent students from stealing others ID number and use it for their own goods.
Maria Mayet-Franco, is a junior at Niagara University studying hospitality/event management. She is also the marketing intern for Metz Culinary Management at Niagara University for the 2022-2023 academic year.