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Senate officials have signed a contract with Restaurant Associates, setting the stage for the privatization of the chamber’s cafeterias.

[IMGCAP(1)]For years, the in-house cafeterias have racked up large deficits, costing the Senate millions of dollars. But Members hope privatization will provide the chamber with a profit.

A second contract — which will outline the details and operations of the cafeterias — is expected to be signed soon, said a spokesman for Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Officials plan to open the newly managed cafeterias in December or January, depending on when the switchover will least affect Congress, he said. Restaurant Associates already handles the House cafeterias and is set to manage food services in the Capitol Visitor Center.

In May, the long-awaited deal with Restaurant Associates seemed in trouble after a necessary bill stalled in the Senate. But about a month later, it passed, ensuring certain benefits and job security for the 100 or so employees who now work in the cafeterias.

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