The University of Southern California’s (USC) hospitality department understands that students, faculty and visitors are not there just to eat. But that doesn’t mean the foodservice available to them on the campus is simply rudimentary or low quality.

“People come here to learn, but our food, beverage and event service mission is to create the best experience possible for people while they are here on campus,” Assistant Vice President of Retail Operations Kris Klinger says. “We really try to differentiate the venues we have here from other campuses and schools. The depth and breadth and complexity of things we do and offer to our campus community is above what other campuses provide.”

PepperJax Grill is known for making the best Philly cheesesteak sandwich its customers have ever had, thanks to founder and President Gary Rohwer’s patented meat process. “Why are we known for America’s Best Philly?” Rohwer asks. “It goes back to the 1980s when I was developing a better Philly steak product for flavor, moisture and cook time.” 

The story is incredible of how the Omaha, Neb.-based restaurant got its start. It goes back to 1981 when Rohwer first entered the restaurant business with a fast-food concept specializing in the Philly steak sandwich. The restaurant chain was successful, but he was never satisfied with the performance of what he believed was the best steak meat he could buy at the time. “I was in five states in five years and started out with good success,” he adds. “I had a problem with the performance of my steak. I knew I must improve the quality of my steak meat. It took too long to cook and didn’t have that knock out flavor.”

No matter what day of the week it is, the students of The Ohio State University (OSU) have a variety of food to choose from. “On any given day, we have over 100 different sandwiches alone we’re offering to students,” Director of Student Life Dining Services Zia Ahmed says.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, OSU has more than 30 dining operations at its home and regional campus locations. Ahmed notes that the dining services program started nearly 100 years ago and now employs approximately 3,000 employees. 

Ahmed himself is a longtime veteran of the campus dining services. Previously, he taught at the college of business at the University of Akron before joining OSU nearly five years ago.

With more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry focusing primarily on development, Perry Brush was named president of Mexican Restaurants Inc.™ last year to help turn the company around and expand the brand. 

“I built my first restaurant in 1984 and never looked back,” he says. “I have worked for a lot of different restaurant companies and I’ve seen well-run companies and challenged companies. That’s the experience that gives me the ability to guide this company and drive this organization into our future, which is heavily dependent on growth and development.”  

Brush was first introduced to Mexican Restaurants after he became president and chief development officer for Williston Holding Co. (WHC), an infrastructure-development company formed in 2012 to develop, own, operate and invest in projects in the Bakken Region of North Dakota. A member of the WHC board, who was also an investor in Mexican Restaurants, brought the company to WHC’s attention over concerns it was not being run properly, staying stagnant and not living up to its potential. 

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