Sodexo names new campus food manager

Eden Cohen, Staff Writer

The man in charge of on-campus food spends little time in his downstairs Student Union office. Instead, he roams at Sodexo locations, discussing with co-workers and chatting with students.

However, the new Sodexo general manager, Kevin Dicey, has a bit of trouble roaming. Since he started working at Pitt-Johnstown Aug. 1, he carries a campus map to help navigate.

“I barely know my way around,” Dicey said, finding humor in his own temporary ignorance. “I got lost going to the log cabin.”

Dicey is not too easy to be recognized walking around the Student Union, though his business dress and nametag certainly help.

While he may be seen around campus more often, Dicey said he still needs to adjust to Western Pennsylvania life. His wife, Sana, originally from Altoona, Pa. convinced him to move from Los Angeles.

“I’m new,” he said. “I’m like a substitute teacher. I have to get used to the culture.”

Although Dicey is new to campus and the state, he is a professional in the food industry. He has been working in the industry for over 25 years, he said, including at private restaurants, health care and schools.

His first job was as a bar manager at Logan International Airport in Boston, he said. His most notable job, he said, was serving as actor Jeff Bridges’ family caterer.

His past experiences prepared him for serving students here, he said.

“I call it my toolbox,” he said. Although he hasn’t worked at a university, he said his varied experiences broadened his horizons.

What prepared him most for university food services, he said, is having a son in college. Hearing about his son’s drama helped him understand college students’ lives, he said.

Administrators seem content with his resume. Finance and Administration Vice President Amy Buxbaum praised his experience.

“These qualifications are a real benefit for him in leading all of the facets of campus dining, from operations to training to marketing,” she said.

Student Government Association foods committee chairman Shane McGuire said since Dicey is accustomed to large-scale service, his skills can accentuate on a smaller campus.

McGuire collaborates with Dicey on meeting students’ wishes: customer service, longer hours and adding options. McGuire said Dicey is willing to compromise on changes and is easy to work with.

Regarding food choices, for example, Dicey said he cannot create a menu tailored to every student’s taste every day, but students are likely to find something the following day.

Dicey also describes himself as affable and talkative, he said.

“I’m there all the time,” he said. “I’m talking to people.”

Dicey said he aims to make his employees equally friendly. He realizes customer service has not been good in the past, he said, and prioritizes improving it.

“I’m trying to change that culture,” he said, referring to poor service habits among some employees.

A polite smile and eye contact can make imperfect food seem significantly more tolerable, he said, while complaints still exist.

Dicey said he exemplified ideal service Wednesday while working a Tuck Shop register. Though he was not quick, he said, he took time to ask customers how their days were.

“Every person is the most important right now,” he said. He said he believes each customer deserves an employee’s full attention while being served.

“I am Sodexo,” he said simply. “When Sodexo doesn’t do a good job, it’s because I didn’t do a good job.”