Surprising many students, the University extended Aramark’s food service contract for 10 years. Along with this extension comes Aramark’s $4.5 million investment in a completely remodeled J Street. Aramark recognized that to continue serving GW students profitably, it needed to provide a product capable of competing with area establishments accessible through Colonial Cash. Luckily for students, Aramark seems to have made a serious effort to meet the new competition by adding new venues in response to student requests in an appealing setting.
Colonial Cash produced tangible benefits for students. It increased food options, providing students both higher quality and lower-priced establishments. It gave students incentive to explore the Foggy Bottom neighborhood and try different restaurants. However, for most of last year, Aramark seemed ill-equipped to deal with the new competition. Its profits plummeted and it was subsequently forced to contract hours and lay off employees.
With a new product to offer, Aramark may now be positioned to compete with other Colonial Cash options. This, however, should not make Aramark complacent. Aramark should work to ensure adequate late-night dining options and constantly engage in a reassessment of its services. Ensuring that its new venues satisfy student demands will provide Aramark with a significant return on its investment.
While Colonial Cash may have acted as powerful leverage for the University to get Aramark to step up its service, it should continue to expand the program. Doing so will greatly benefit student life.