Spring sales flatline at on-campus dining hall

Sales at J Street have stagnated this spring after dipping in the fall semester in the face of competition from new food venues near campus.

In the fall, dining representatives reported a $5,000 drop in daily sales compared to that period the previous year – a result of reduced prices, the nixing of dining requirements for sophomores and the lowering of mandatory spending for freshmen.

Sales so far this spring remained at about $16,000 per day, Rich Yokeley, director of campus dining for Sodexo, said.

Yokeley declined to elaborate on his reaction to flattening daily sales, but said “while we are pleased with much of the progress that has been made since September 2011, we are not complacent or satisfied that we’ve met all of our goals in terms of creating a campus dining offering that is unique to GW, as compared to the local restaurant marketplace.”

The dining hub saw 2,229 more transactions weekly in the fall compared to the previous year, totaling about 16,000 to 17,000 purchases a week on average.

Yokeley attributed the climb in purchases primarily to the additional 40 hours J Street has been operating per week since September.

He declined to say how the sale dip alongside increased foot traffic impacted revenue.

Ben Leighton, chair of the Student Dining Board, said the increase in transactions shows “people [are giving] J Street a chance.”

“It’s not the same dining program and facility that they thought was horrible,” Leighton, also a candidate for Student Association executive vice president, said.

Along with last summer’s physical overhaul of J Street, which replaced nearly all dining options with new vendors, prices were brought down to “be more competitive with the local marketplace,” Yokeley said.

J Street’s overall price reduction goal, Yokeley said, was 8 to 10 percent for the new venues, such as Pesto, the Metro Diner and the Coffee Stop.

Whole Foods Market has not tracked GWorld traffic, but Kim Bryden, the store’s marketing team leader, said “the amount of students that come in and use GWorld is phenomenal.”

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