Sales at District House vendors drop after one year, some managers say

Media Credit: Keegan Mullen | Staff Photgrapher

The managers of some restaurants in District House said sales dipped over the summer and have remained stagnant.

About one year after food vendors opened for business in District House, some venues say sales haven’t been as strong as they’d expected.

The managers of some restaurants in District House said after an initial surge from students when vendors first opened last spring, sales dipped over the summer and have remained stagnant. Officials said the vendors have received “positive feedback” from students, but the University does not track individual stores’ sales.

Antonios Karampas, the general manager of GRK Fresh Greek restaurant, said sales have fallen since the original opening in District House but declined to say by how much.

“After summer, of course, we were struggling here, it was really tough,” he said. “And then coming back in September now, we’ve noticed that it’s not exactly what we expected.”

Five vendors opened their doors in the basement of District House over a span of several months last academic year, months after officials initially said they would open.

Karampas said holiday breaks, and the summer break in particular, have been especially tough for business because many students leave campus to vacation or go home. Students taking summer courses and visitors from the GW Hospital occasionally frequented GRK over this time period, keeping the location afloat, he said.

“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what we would have done actually,” he said.

Several vendors in District House reduced their hours over the summer to save on operational costs.

Last month, Beef ‘N Bread, which was located in District House, closed after about a year to make way for a poke restaurant, both of which are projects of the owner of Wiseguy Pizza. Owner Nuri Erol said last month that Beef ‘N Bread shut its doors because “it wasn’t the right concept for GW.”

Erol declined to say how his restaurants’ sales have compared to initial projections.

“Sales should pick up again in the coming weeks,” he said in an email.

Representatives from Sol Mexican Grill and Chick-fil-A did not return multiple requests for comment.

Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president of operations, said the vendors located in District House were “designed to provide a hub for students for not only dining but also for studying, meeting and building community at GW.” She said the vendors were selected to offer a diverse range of food options for students.

“The University has received positive feedback from students on the additional food offerings at District House and the utilization of the community spaces has also been high,” she said in an email.

Knight declined to say how much money the University has profited from opening the vendors in District House, but she said GW receives rent “based on the vendor’s lease.” Aside from the switch to Onolicious Poke this semester, officials do not plan on making additional changes to the vendors or the student spaces in the building, she added.

She declined to say how the popularity of the businesses compared to initial projections.

Michaela Hertig, the assistant manager of Peet’s Coffee, said that despite initial doubts about the success of the chain’s location, profits at the shop have been “phenomenal.” She said the store has the most foot traffic of all 30 of Peet’s East Coast locations.

During the summer, she said the coffee shop only made about one-third of its academic year profits. Hertig said Peet’s tried to adjust by starting a coffee delivery service in June.

“I think it’s been super successful, a nice little hole-in-the-wall where people definitely come here for their own reasons like customer service and better-tasting coffee,” she said.

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