Pitt Dining is off to a sweet start in its efforts to partner with more local businesses.
Local favorite Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream has opened in the former coffee cart space inside the University Store on Fifth and is serving after hours from a new service window on the Schenley Quad.
The delicious and locally sourced traditional and non-dairy treats are available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. In addition to cones and milkshakes, pints are available for takeout, too.
It’s Pitt Dining’s first independent business partnership on campus, said Joe Beaman, director of dining services. Since his arrival on campus in January, he’s worked to apply the strategic priorities in the University’s strategic plan, The Plan for Pitt, within Dining Services.
Strengthening communities is among the strategic plan’s goals, manifested here in a commitment to collaborate with local businesses. Pitt Dining in partnership with Sodexo also supports student sustainability initiatives and works closely with organizations such as Food Recovery Heroes, 412 Food Rescue and Community Kitchen PGH.
“[Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations] Greg Scott and [Associate Vice Chancellor for Business and Auxiliary Services] Jim Earle have made it a priority for me to partner with as many local organizations as possible, and I have been looking at different opportunities to integrate this methodology into various sectors of dining services,” Beaman said.
“Millie’s not only has a great product, but they are a great representation of the brand of our institution as a whole,” Beaman said. “They are environmentally sound and pay fair wages to their employees.”
Celebrate Millie’s Grand Opening
A grand opening celebration is set for next Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Millie’s takeout window on the Schenley Quad.
A ribbon-cutting is planned for 3 p.m. and free samples of Millie’s ice cream will be offered from 3 to 5 p.m.
The relationship is mutually beneficial. Millie’s presence is driving customer traffic to The University Store on Fifth and contributing to the vibrancy of the Schenley Quad, Beaman said.
The shop’s business strategy was supported with input from students. It is employing Pitt students and its presence has created an internship opportunity.
Typically ice cream stores are busier in summer, but at Pitt, the reverse is true: Campus retail is busier during the fall and spring terms. With that in mind, a student intern from Pitt’s College of Business Administration is working to develop a business model for the Pitt Millie’s location, Beaman said.
And, while this is the first dining-related partnership at the University, it’s not the first time Millie’s has scooped up some Pitt expertise.
When customers decide on the size of their scoop — single, classic or triple — from the menu board, it’s the result of input on the nomenclature from focus groups conducted by Pitt Business students through the University’s Small Business Development Center, part of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
Students in Swanson School of Engineering Assistant Professor David Sanchez’s sustainability capstone last year developed a concept for a sustainable Millie’s kiosk — an idea that morphed into the Pitt bookstore location.
And there’s even a former business intern among the students who’ve been hired at the Pitt Millie’s location.
"The University has been a great partner to Millie's over the last few years, matching us with exceptional student interns and academic resources. They have shown commitment to real food and sustainable business practices and we are so excited to bring our brand to Oakland,” said Millie’s co-founder Lauren Townsend.