Battle for the munchies market

A new 24-hour 7-Eleven in the basement of Mitchell Hall may spell convenience for students with the midnight munchies, but it could also affect business for other after-hours food providers.

As students, particularly the more than 1,000 freshmen living on the same block as the new convenience store, may be lured to the 7-Eleven, other late-night staples are offering incentives to students seeking snack foods. GW’s other campus 7-Eleven, located at 24th Street and New Hampshire Avenue, said it will be accepting Colonial Cash for the first time in its 20-year history.

“They’re expected to come this week to install the GWorld Card reader,” said Sam Motamedi, the manager of the New Hampshire Avenue 7-Eleven, which is open until 11 p.m. every night.

Motamedi said his decision to expand the store’s accepted forms of payment to Colonial Cash was not linked to the opening of the 24-hour venue in Mitchell Hall.

“Actually we applied for Colonial Cash a year-and-a-half ago,” Motamedi said.

The store’s manager added that he hopes his 7-Eleven will generate more revenue from students looking to pay on GWorld but said that he may lose a slight amount of business from the 7-Eleven across campus.

“It probably will affect us, maybe with late-night customers,” Motamedi said.

But he said that he is not worried about any substantial losses in business and added that a close proximity to the Metro stop will help his store maintain its regular clientele of tourists and commuters.

Motamedi also pointed out that students living in nearby residence halls like the Hall on Virginia Avenue and City Hall will be more likely to visit his 7-Eleven than trek all the way to Mitchell Hall, which is located at 19th Street between E and F streets.

Campus Snacks, GW’s popular late-night delivery service, will also be expanding its business for the upcoming year. But GW graduate Matt Mandell, who founded the business in 2003 as a junior, said that the changes were not in response to the new convenience store.

“Students can now track their orders online and we’ve added more delivery workers to equate to demand,” Mandell said. “We’ve also added a lot of new products like Vitamin Water and more hot meals, which will give students more choices.”

In addition to providing food and drinks, Campus Snacks delivers DVDs, over-the-counter drugs and condoms to students in residence halls.

The owner of the delivery service said he was pleased to see the opening of a 24-hour venue for students and said the new 7-Eleven would not cause his business to take a hit.

“Where we differ (from other convenience stores) is that we are students, we are run by students and we keep adding new things,” Mandell said.

But if the observations of Bisrat Hailemeskel, the new 7-Eleven’s franchisee, are correct, students may be less likely to rely on other businesses for late-night snacks.

“Our business here is very good, and it is really picking up every day,” Hailemeskel said last week.

He said a large portion of his customers come in between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. to buy chips, soda, candy and other items.

“People seem so happy that we are open all the time,” Hailemeskel said. “Everyone is always saying thank you, thank you.”

Some students welcomed the new 7-Eleven and said that it will have a considerable impact on other late-night food vendors.

“It’s probably the greatest thing that GW could have done with that property,” junior Bradley A. Buslik said.

Buslik added that while he thinks Campus Snacks is a good idea, students, especially freshmen close to the new 7-Eleven, will turn away from the delivery service.

Peter Miller, a freshman who lives in Mitchell Hall, said he has used the store in his building several times already.

“I find it really convenient that I don’t have to go outside,” Miller said. “Every time I go there, there are always at least four other people.”

Ajay Handoo, who owns Pizza Italia, a restaurant across from Thurston Hall and down the block from the 7-Eleven, said he welcomes the nearby business.

“Because the 7-Eleven is 24 hours, it will bring students who were my customers last year and in previous years back to my store for pizza,” said Handoo, who keeps his store open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Handoo added that if he sees a significant drop in customers this fall, he may add more products or stay open later to compete with the Mitchell Hall venue.

“I’m very open with competition,” Handoo said. “I say let the best man win.”

But for many students, the best man is Manouchehr Nava, more commonly known as Manouch. The hot dog-serving sage gives students advice and personal conversation until the early morning hours on weekends, as he mans his cart in front of Tower Records on 21st Street.

“I’m glad students finally have a place to eat 24 hours,” Nava said. “I’ve always been an advocate for students having more places to eat on campus.”

Nava added that he does not expect any change in his business, despite a new food store open all night.

“My place is just a place for students to meet each other,” he said. “The students who visit me are usually regulars.”

Instead of the possible business threat from 7-Eleven, Nava said his biggest problem is finding a place to park his cart past 1:30 a.m., when a city-wide curfew for street vendors takes effect. He said that he hopes GW will allow him to open up an on-campus venue some day.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.