Skip to main content

Club Dining hopes to highlight cultures and create one big ohana for students and employees

Club Dining employee stands in front of the cereal selection

Supervisors and employees of BYU–Hawaii Club Dining alike said they try to help students feel welcomed and well-nourished at one of the main places to eat on campus.

Marilou Lee, the Club Dining manager and BYUH alumna, commented, “[We enjoy] seeing students happy when they eat our food, when we do our special events and when we try to break the monotony, or celebrate cultural dinners. . . We listen to the students. We try to incorporate what they are asking us to.”

David Bannister, a sophomore from California studying political science, works as a grill cook for the Club. He shared, “My job, especially when you have a lot to do, can easily be stressful, but one thing that really makes it easy is knowing that you’re working with people that feel like family.”

David Keala, the director of BYUH’s Food Services, said he enjoys being able to serve a variety of people through his work. “There are so many students from so many different cultures. So, when we do events, as an example, it is our time to highlight the culture, the people, and their food. All of these events keep us busy, and at the same time, it keeps us moving, and it’s fun.”

Lee, Keala and Executive Chef Spencer Tan said they work together to plan events and menus for the Club. They plan different events from Fiji Night to waffle extravaganzas.

The Club has won awards for its events and themed nights from The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS). The last competition it competed and won in was in 2014. Lee said they are planning to start participating again soon.

Spotlighting culture

Keala shared, “There are so many students from so many different cultures. So when we do events, as an example, it is our time to highlight the culture, the people and their food. All of these events keep us busy, and at the same time, it keeps us moving and it’s fun.”

Lee shared she works with a team consisting of Auntie Katai and Auntie Wendy to run in harmony the Club and events. “To have a successful event, you have to be organized. For us, there are so many people to coordinate with, so the more specific you are, the better your event will turn out. There’s no stress,” Lee said.

Lee added she and her team get inspiration from outside sources. They try to take newfound food trends and tweak them to fit into the Club. “Every Saturday, my husband and I go out [to try new foods] whether it be in town or around here. I get my creativity from these places, as well as watching the Food Network, which is on 24 hours in my house because I am passionate about food.”

Love for employees

Auntie Katai, Lee and Keala all shared they hope their employees feel like they are also in harmony and are one big family. “Our employees interact with each other, and it brings that bond of togetherness. That’s what we want. We want them to enjoy working here, hopefully not feeling forced to work here,” Auntie Katai said.

Bannister said his supervisors make sure to pay attention to the little things for students dining at the Club to truly feel appreciated. He noted paying such close attention helps him to put emotion and care into his work.

“It’s nice to meet new people and to provide a service… That’s what I love. I love to serve people. I love being able to learn and progress through my job while also providing a service,” Bannister commented.

Lee and Keala also stressed how much they are willing to take suggestions from students about what they would like to see at the Club. They said students can comment anytime about their ideas through email and their “text and tell.”

Lee said, “If any students or clubs that would like to come help with something [like an event], we can plan something fun for them to be involved in. I would encourage these people to come forward, and we can make something fun.”