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Notre Dame dining hall

Notre Dame, Grubhub provide students with comprehensive dining experience

Experience a day in the life of a student interacting with apps, kiosks, robots, and ghost kitchens

CampusIDNews Staff   ||   Feb 02, 2024  ||   ,

There’s never been a better time to be a University of Notre Dame student with a healthy appetite. Thanks to a partnership with mobile ordering and food delivery platform, Grubhub, Notre Dame has forged a dining services program that offers students flexibility, variety, and convenience.

Notre Dame’s mobile ordering journey started in 2018 when it began working with the campus mobile ordering provider Tapingo, which would later be acquired by Grubhub.

“We essentially had Grubhub in place as a secondary ordering service for select dining retail operations,” says Bin An, Director of Retail Dining for University Enterprises and Events at the University of Notre Dame. “When COVID hit and we had to figure out ways to service students while reducing physical contact, we pivoted to increase our Grubhub footprint.”

During COVID, we temporarily ceased walk-up service. Student behavior changed, and ordering food through a phone or kiosk became the norm.

That increased footprint included more ordering kiosks and Grubhub Ultimate locations. At the same time, temporarily ceased walk-up service. “The effect was that student behavior changed and ordering food through a phone or kiosk became the norm,” explains An.

Adapting to the times, Notre Dame is working with Grubhub to offer contactless ordering solutions at most of the dining locations on its South Bend campus. That includes in-person kiosk ordering, pre-ordering via the Grubhub mobile app, and offering autonomous robot delivery.

Starship Grubhub robot deliveryThe Grubhub app is the primary mobile ordering channel for Notre Dame students and is fully integrated with the university’s ID card system to support order payment. The Grubhub kiosk is a guest-facing ordering software that supports all cashless forms of payment, including credit, debit, and student ID card tenders.

It’s worth noting that Notre Dame is a cashless retail environment, with food-service locations, dining halls, and concession stands accepting only credit, debit, or campus card tenders.

“Being cashless improves efficiency, eliminates security risks associated with transporting cash, and lowers health concerns with less cash repeatedly changing hands,” says An.

The integrated dining experience at Notre Dame also paved the way for the addition of autonomous robot delivery.

“We launched autonomous delivery in February of 2023, and the robots serve all parts of campus,” says An. “Robot delivery is an important part of an expanded omnichannel retail strategy that increases flexibility and accessibility for our community.”

A day in the life of Riley

Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff can interact with Grubhub in a myriad of ways, with each method offering its own measure of convenience. Let’s explore a typical day with Notre Dame student, Riley.

Riley is a busy guy, so he saves time in the morning by pre-ordering breakfast on the Grubhub app from home. He uses flex points to pay and then grabs the order on his way to class.

At lunch, Riley uses one of the Grubhub kiosks in the dining hall to place his made-to-order stir fry prior to entering the facility. This speeds up the process, allows him to customize with all of his favorite vegetables, and gives him a little extra time to go over his notes before his next class.

At midnight, Riley orders a pizza and some wings via the Grubhub app. Thirty minutes later, a robot delivers it to his dorm.

Because of tomorrow’s exam, it’s now midnight and Riley is still burning the candle at both ends. He needs a late-night snack to keep him going, and once again Grubhub is there to help. Riley orders a pizza, some wings, ice cream and a cookie via the Grubhub app. Thirty minutes later, a robot delivers it to his dorm.

Grubhub kioskUniversity staff members also leverage Grubhub. “Our staff often have back-to-back meetings and long days, so calling on a delivery robot from their favorite lunch spot across campus can be a lifesaver,” says An.

With the entire Notre Dame community able to access the Grubhub suite of ordering solutions, it comes as little surprise that the program is thriving.

According to An, the Fall 2023 semester saw a 10% increase in year-over-year sales through Grubhub. Since the launch of the robot fleet in February 2023, there have already been 36,000 deliveries. To put that into perspective, Notre Dame has an undergraduate population of just 9,000 students.

Frighteningly convenient ghost kitchen

Notre Dame is also employing the ghost kitchen concept to further build out its comprehensive dining portfolio. The ghost kitchen fills a void in late-night dining, utilizing existing infrastructure and operational capabilities to do so.

The ghost kitchen functions as a normal kitchen, but it operates after hours when the facility would traditionally have sat unused. The operation uses existing equipment, inventory, and staff to execute the menu, but does not offer a dine-in option. Instead, students order late-night food on the Grubhub app where it’s then prepared in the ghost kitchen and delivered via an autonomous robot.

We cross-train our teams to be able to execute multiple menus so that we can service the ghost kitchen without additional talent.

“We cross-train our teams to be able to execute multiple menus so that we can service the ghost kitchen without additional talent,” explains Reggie Kalili, Director of Student Dining for University Enterprises and Events. “Our staff loves trying new concepts and this one has been fun to deliver.”

For its efforts, the Notre Dame dining services team and Grubhub have successfully provided the campus community with a diverse portfolio of dining options.

“We continue to listen to our stakeholders and innovate to deliver what our community needs and wants through student ambassadors, surveys, and collaboration with student government,” says Kalili. “All of these efforts work cohesively to make Notre Dame and its dining program so special. It allows us to fuel the mind, body and spirit of our university community as it seeks to be a force for good in the world.”


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