Aramark has left UCD campus, following the ending of their contract as the caterers for UCD’s restaurant building. The new contract holders are Gather & Gather, a company that presents itself as prioritising sustainable and local produce.
Aramark has held this contract for the past 8 years. Their departure also means the Starbucks, Chopped, and Subway branches in the restaurant building are closed. Gather & Gather’s contract is due to last 59 months, just under 6 years, and they plan to change things up frequently throughout that time to hold the interest of their student market.
Their first plan for the building is to replace these campus staples with Toastas, a toasted sandwich bar, and a rotating “Residency Project”, where different Dublin restaurants can host signature dishes for a fixed period of time, as well as a main restaurant which serves ramen, curries, and chile con carne, among other fare.
This news follows years of protests and boycotts of the restaurant building, due to Aramark’s involvement in Direct Provision centres, as well as their involvement in both United States prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) detention centres abroad. However, Aramark clarified in a statement to The College Tribune that the decision to leave UCD was purely a “commercial decision”. Student activists and groups that support the end of Direct Provision have voiced support for this parting of ways.
This is a similar response to their reasoning for not renewing their contract with Trinity College Dublin, where they stated that the demonstrations against them were “not a factor in our decision and any suggestion to the contrary is false and misleading”.
Gather & Gather centre sustainability in their business ethos, with a page on their website focused on their sustainability projects and accreditations. They have received a three star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the highest rating available, and highlight their focus on locally sourced ingredients, as well as their support of clean water initiatives and their paper cup levy, which encourages customers to bring reusable cups.
Meals at the restaurant building are due to average €5-7, a similar price range to the restaurant under Aramark.The “Residency Project” prices are due to match the price charged at the previous restaurant.