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New Cafeteria Manager Shares his Life and Plans for COS

Kason Clark

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While working as the manager at the nearby Starbucks on Mooney, Zach Patterson pondered his future. He could only advance further in his career if he moved up to Seattle, Washington; however, he did not want to leave his friends and family behind. He then heard about an opening for cafeteria manager at the College of the Sequoias and after he and his wife looked at the opening, he said, “It was perfect.”

Fast forward a few months and Zach Patterson is now the new cafeteria manager at COS. With his experience and dedication, he also brings with him several new ideas.

When Patterson arrived at COS last June, he sought to make several changes. This meant streamlining the cafeteria by reorganizing everything, including all the stations and storage, installing new cash registers that speed up the time it takes for someone to make a purchase, and raising the standards of cleanliness to what he experienced while working for Starbucks.

He redid the café so that there is a new special every week. There are plans to serve paninis, tri-tip, briskets, and home-made pizza. Patterson and his cooks are also making the food fresh by.

Patterson stated that they’re, “Doing everything from scratch,” so that they can make quality food.

The kitchen has the resources to do this as he said there is, “No reason why we can’t do a lot of things in house.”

Patterson said that while he believes that a new meal every week and cooking from scratch makes their work challenging, he also believes that’s what makes their work fun and successful.

Patterson is looking to make further changes at COS. For the menu, he wants to give students a large variety of foods to choose from. He is planning on introducing a salad bar to give students more options. Patterson is also going to introduce new and healthy foods to the cafeteria such as acai bowls.

He is pursuing new vendors outside of Carl’s Jr. for the cafeteria but due to limited space, it might be a few years until that becomes a reality. However, he will soon be opening up his biggest project yet: a new coffee court. The coffee court at COS has been closed for several years. Patterson plans to reopen it and remodel it over the next few weeks. The new coffee court should be open to students as soon as early March.

At the new court, Patterson plans to serve coffee that he describes as, “The best I’ve ever had.” He is also going to have the coffee and lattes tailored for each customer. The new coffee court will also have new machinery such as an espresso grinder that will allow users to create a variety of drinks. Patterson is also bringing in another machine that will allow the servers to create latte art.

Ultimately, Patterson plans on creating a sustainable model of business for the cafeteria and coffee court. He believes that in order to do this, he and his workers must adapt to the new students as they come into COS and go to the cafeteria. This is part of his overall philosophy that change is inevitable and that the cafeteria can’t just do what it’s always been doing if they want to continue to satisfy students. Patterson also wants to ensure that the customers have a genuine experience and receive great service every time they go to the cafeteria. In order to give the customers what they want, Patterson is open to all forms of feedback. When students purchase something at the cafeteria, they can have their receipt emailed to them and in this email, there is a link that allows them to anonymously give feedback. Patterson also encourages students can also talk to him in person.

Zach Patterson is 28 years old and lives up in Kingsburg with his wife who is an English teacher in Selma. Most of Patterson’s family also works in education, which influenced his choice to sign on at COS. He wanted to make an impact on students like his family has and he stated that, “At least working for a college, I can make an impact in my own way.”

He was born and raised in Selma and has spent his entire life in the Central Valley. After high school, he attended Fresno City College and Reedley College. He then transferred to Fresno State to major in business administration marketing. While attending Fresno State, Patterson began to work as a barista at Starbucks and eventually moved up to manager after three years. After two more years in Fresno, he became the manager of the Starbucks on Mooney and worked there for four years before signing on at COS. Patterson loves to go backpacking and rock climbing whenever he can get the time to do it.

In college, he and his colleagues broke a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest chocolate mousse that weighed 587 pounds. A class project inspired Patterson to attempt this record as he states that he wanted to, “Do something that’s memorable.” So he and his group did research into what they could do until they decided on breaking the world record for largest chocolate mousse. They did encounter problems as they all had school during the day and could only make it at night. The only place they could find that had a kitchen open to them at night was the Fresno Rescue Mission. So Patterson and his group got together at the Fresno Rescue Mission kitchen and began working on the chocolate mousse at 5 p.m. and finished it at 7 a.m. the next morning.

Zach is confident that he’ll accomplish his goals at COS and that he’ll improve our cafeteria and food. He’s so confident that when I asked him if the coffee at COS will be better than the coffee at Starbucks after he opens up the coffee court, he said, “I guarantee that.”

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New Cafeteria Manager Shares his Life and Plans for COS