Established in 1809, Miami is the seventh-oldest university in the country and has dining traditions just as storied as its academic history. Students originally cooked in their rooms. Records show that in 1832, $50 would have paid for a year's tuition, room and books with prepared meals available locally for one dollar a week. The first dining room was opened in 1849 in Stoddard Hall.
Stoves in the kitchen were coal-fired and refrigeration was supplied by daily deliveries of ice. Many students worked as waiters in the full service dining rooms to subsidize tuition. By 1922, 36-week board fees were $162 for women and $180 for men.
Miami enjoyed steady growth after WWI and new residence and dining halls were built to handle it. Foodservice made a great leap in 1932 when MU constructed the dedicated “Central Food Store” on Elm Street. It provided refrigerated and dry storage and facilities to make ice and ice cream, pasteurize milk and house a central bakery.
The operation was groundbreaking at the time and helped MU keep board costs low. It also established a tradition of central production that presaged the Culinary Support Center operated today.
During WWII,the school's facilities were used to train over 10,000 cooks and bakers for the Navy. In the 1950s, the school eliminated maid and wait service and introduced buffet-style self-service dining, which remained the primary service model until the late 1980s.
Today, Miami's dining program includes five buffet-style dining halls and 16 a la carte operations that offer a full range of retail dining service options. It operates five c-stores, including Market Street at McCracken, the largest, which alone does about $2.6 million in annual sales.
The department also manages over a dozen brands, ranging from Uncle Phil's Express (a takeout line used across campus) to Miami Twister (a pretzel concept) to fully-developed restaurants like La Mia Cucina and Panache. The newest concept, Dividends, will open in the new Farmer Business School this fall.
MU's original “Central Food Store” on Elm Street.