Campus dining business up

While off-campus businesses are receiving increased sales with the advent of Colonial Cash this year, Aramark officials said business at J Street is not suffering.

Officials said they attribute Aramark’s success to this year’s changes to J Street, which include the addition of a Subway, a Provisions Express market and an expanded Provisions Market.

“We’re really enjoying this open market system; it’s changed the dynamic of campus,” said Amelia Powell, marketing program manager for Aramark. “It’s an opportunity for students to experience D.C. in a traditional retail environment.”

The new Subway location is among J Street’s highest grossing venues, with the sandwich stand generating more than double the revenue than predecessors Bene Pasta and Malaysia Kopitiam did last year. Powell declined to provide specific numbers.

“I think that Subway is doing so well because it is more convenient and accessible to students,” Powell said. “It’s important that students have the ability to eat on the run.”

Powell said Provisions Market has also improved, with Aramark doubling last year’s stock and continuing plans for stock expansion.

In order to gauge what additional products should be sold, Aramark officials said they conducted a student survey during the past three weeks. The 176 survey participants identified 67 items they would like to see carried.

While 66 percent of students surveyed identified products Provisions already carries, including American cheese, chick peas and potatoes, Aramark officials said they are trying to add other requests such as Boca Burgers and certain types of cereal to their inventory. But Powell said Provisions will be unable to answer other suggestions of fresh steak and chicken because of licensing issues.

Although officials declined to release sales records of campus dining facilities, Powell said sales at on-campus facilities have been up as a whole. Officials said GW’s dining system, which now enables students to use University meal points at on- and off-campus locations, is unique aside from the addition of a few Au Bon Pain restaurants to the student meal plan at the University of Pennsylvania.

“GW is really taking a novel approach to dining,” Powell said. “There is nothing really comparable to GW; we have more selection as a community than any other university in the world.”

GW’s off-campus partners said they are also reaping the benefits of the new Colonial Cash system.

“Our sales are up about 40 percent right now due to student traffic,” Au Bon Pain General Manager Ben Lipetz said.

Lipetz said Au Bon Pain will soon be adding two more cash registers to the four they currently have in order to better accommodate the amount of patrons.

“It’s necessary because of the volume of business we’re now doing because of the Colonial Cash system,” Lipetz said.

Another off-campus GWorld partner, the Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory, reported an increase in GWorld card sales of 20 percent.

“As far as I know, we (deliver more to) GW than (to) anywhere else,” Manager Rassi Nooristani said.

Despite an increase in business for Aramark and Colonial Cash off-campus partners, some student leaders said they are apprehensive about the system.

“My concern is that students are spending more than they have,” Student Association President Kris Hart said. “It really just comes down to experience with fiscal responsibility.”

Some students said excessive spending has been a problem.

“I ate a lot off campus in the beginning, but you start to realize how much more you’re spending,” sophomore Kellie Walsh said. “I’ve spent almost all my points.”

Hart said students should check their GWorld account balances on the GWorld Web site to monitor personal spending and to guard against illegal usage of GWorld card numbers.

-Elizabeth Chernow contributed to this report.

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