J Street undergoes renovations

Students will find a completely renovated and redesigned J Street featuring Wendy’s and new Asian and Mexican dining venues upon returning to campus this fall.

Aramark, which operates most Marvin Center dining services and recently signed a 10-year contract extension with GW, is getting rid of most venues on the Marvin Center’s ground level and first floor.

The only venues surviving the renovations will be Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Subway and Jamba Juice, which will all be located on a completely reconfigured first floor.

Along with these familiar venues, Aramark is installing a Wendy’s and three other establishments. The new venues are Baja Sol, a Mexican eatery; the Tuscan Oven, which specializes in brick oven pizza; and Miso, an Asian venue that will have vegetarian meals as well as sushi.

Occupying the majority of the ground floor will be The District Market, which Amelia Powell, Aramark’s marketing program manager, called “GW’s community grocery store.”

Aramark, which is paying for the renovations, is also redesigning the J Street seating areas and installing a small-scale Washington Monument with plasma television screens that will stretch from the ground level up through the first floor.

Burger King, Chik-Fil-A, Taco Bell and several other venues will not return to J Street. Some establishments that will remain, such as Starbucks, are undergoing renovations. The popular coffee shop will feature extra seating, including tables and umbrellas on the currently vacant patio outside the Marvin Center’s H Street entrance.

The renovations will cost Aramark about $4.5 million, said Robert Chernak, senior vice president of Student and Academic Support Services. Aramark officials declined to comment on the exact cost.

Powell said the new venues were chosen based on surveys from more than 4,000 students, faculty and staff. In addition, Aramark conducted several focus groups to better determine the tastes of the GW community.

On a recent tour of the gutted dining area, J Street was unrecognizable except for the solitary Starbucks sign hanging where the coffee venue
used to stand. The area was demolished in mid-June and is now in the initial phase of redesign.

Aramark officials hope the renovations, which began in late May, will allow them to compete with area restaurants and stores. The dining service provider incurred significant financial losses last year following the introduction of the Colonial Cash system, which gives students the opportunity to use meal points at dozens of off-campus locations. Last semester, Aramark curtailed the hours of several venues and laid off several workers to offset its losses.

“We are confident that the new operational plan for the Marvin Center will allow both Aramark and GW to provide a higher level of service and selection to the community, better positioning ourselves to be competitive with outside competition,” Powell said.

Michael Peller, managing director of the Marvin Center and University Conferences, said he expects construction to be completed by the end of August, even though the University is only “in the design phase” of the project.

“Every possible effort to ensure they meet the deadline that they need to is being made,” Peller said.

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