Blake Widdowson R'83 retires after 36 years with dining services.

Always A Spider

June 24, 2022
Blake Widdowson R'83 retires after 36 years with dining services.

Always a Spider 

When Blake Widdowson was a high schooler in Salisbury, Maryland, he only applied to one school: The University of Richmond. At the time, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother. Nearly 40 years later, Widdowson is stepping away from UR, at least in a professional capacity, to trade in his desk view of Westhampton Lake for a deck view of the Outer Banks. 

Most of Widdowson’s favorite memories involve friends more than classes. The sociology major played on the men’s soccer team and was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.  

Following commencement on May 8, 1983, he briefly worked as a restaurant consultant in the Carolinas before returning to UR as the assistant director of cash operations. “I graduated on Sunday and started working on Monday. What was I thinking?!” Widdowson joked.  

At the time, UR only had one retail dining location called The Dry Dock, located where Tyler’s is today. Eventually, The Dry Dock became The Pier, and Widdowson became the Director of Retail Services. Under his leadership:  

  • The Cellar opened in 1995 
  • The Pier became Tyler’s Grill in 2000 
  • 8:15 at Boatwright opened in 2003 (replacing Richmond Perks and World Cup in THC)  
  • ETC opened as part of the Heilman Dining Center renovation in 2006 
  • Dean’s Den opened in 2008 
  • Expanding concessions to Robins Stadium in 2010 
  • Passport Café opened in 2011 
  • Lou’s opened in 2012 
  • Grubhub debuted on campus in 2020 
  • Organic Krush opened in 2021 

During his tenure, Widdowson also chaired the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) 50th Anniversary National Conference in 2008, served on the NACUFS Board of Directors, and received nominations for numerous UR and NACUFS service awards. 

His favorite experiences on campus include working to feed everyone (including the media, secret service, and even the candidates) during the 1992 Presidential Debate and spearheading the surprise FOMO Pop-Up Bars during the 2019-2020 school year.  

Just like his college career, Widdowson says what he’ll miss most about working at UR is the people.  

“I enjoy starting the day each morning visiting staff at our retail locations,” said Widdowson, whose favorite breakfast order is an 8:15 cold brew iced coffee with a local sweet potato ham biscuit from Passport. “We’ve been working on a new café space for 8:15 so that will be exciting and I look forward to stopping by strictly as an alum in the future.” 

But after 36 years of service to the University of Richmond, this Spider is most looking forward to spending more time with his favorite people, his wife, Anna, and their grandson, Bennett, at his favorite place, the beach!