Charlotte, N.C., April 24, 2023 – Chartwells Higher Education, a recognized leader in contract food service management, has partnered with students at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to launch a new student-driven dining concept called Capital Grains. The build-your-own-bowl concept, which first launched at CMU, was entirely developed and is solely run by students with the support of the Chartwells dining team.
David You, a senior business major at CMU, developed the concept with Chartwells after conducting extensive research that found students wanted more nutritious, convenient, build-it-yourself meal options, especially on the weekends. With full financial support and operational guidance from Chartwells, the first Capital Grains launched in February 2023 with You as the CEO and executive chef, along with an executive board and five employees to run the day-to-day operations, all of which are students.
“I’ve always had a passion for cooking and wanted to learn how to run a business, so this was the perfect opportunity to combine those two interests,” said You. “When Chartwells came to me with the idea of a student-run dining initiative, I was immediately on board and haven’t regretted anything since. They’ve continuously supported me in all areas yet have still allowed me to build the restaurant out how I see fit. I’m grateful for their partnership, and hope this can be a model other colleges and universities can adopt.”
Since launching, the concept’s popularity and sales have quickly risen, now selling hundreds of bowls every weekend. You’s research also found that many vegetarians on campus lacked protein options on the weekends, so he designed the menu to address that deficiency. The menu includes five signature bowls and a build-your-own option with rice and quinoa, kale and spinach, or romaine as a base, a variety of toppings, and a choice of protein and dressing.
“We love working with students to bring the best, most innovative dining concepts to campus communities across the country, and it’s been incredible to see the success of our first student-led restaurant concept,” said Lisa McEuen, CEO of Chartwells Higher Education. “We’re excited to offer the Captial Grains model to other campuses we partner with, not only to empower students to shape their own dining experience but also to get hands-on, real-world educational experiences as well.”
Chartwells hopes to empower students to create their own concepts and ideas that will evolve and differentiate each program to best serve the wants and needs of their campus communities.