Five vendors join meal deal list amid stagnant program interest

Media Credit: Photo by Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Kin's Sushi is one of five dining partners to join the University's meal deal program this fall.

Five new restaurants on and near campus added discounted meal prices for students to their menus this summer.

Twenty-eight of the University’s more than 100 dining partners offer meal deals, or special offers of $6 breakfasts, $8 lunches or $10 dinners. Restaurant owners said they decided to participate in meal deals to offer affordable dining options for students and garner more business.

Officials launched the Meal Deals program in 2016, months after shifting to an open dining system. But the University has struggled to add new vendors to the program because several restaurants offer meals at lower prices than the restrictions set by the meal deals program. Twenty-eight vendors now offer meal deals, compared to 25 locations that had signed on by last spring.

“We’re really excited to get started on it,” Ashley Olexa, the executive chef at Circle Bistro, said. “I know the students are coming back this week, so we’re just excited.”

Circle Bistro, 1 Washington Circle
Circle Bistro, a restaurant located in One Washington Circle Hotel, added several new deals and joined the GWorld program Friday. The hotel will house juniors and seniors temporarily while GW renovates Thurston Hall.

The restaurant now offers a $6 breakfast option of cinnamon oatmeal topped with bananas, blackberries and honey, served with coffee, hot tea or juice.

Students can buy a chopped salad for $8 and grilled cheese with french fries or a cup of soup for a $10 dinner. Both the lunch and dinner deals are served with iced tea or lemonade.

“We wanted to just make ourselves available,” Olexa, the hotel’s executive chef, said. “We know the GWorld program is really popular and wanted to open that kind of payment option up to students.”

Kin’s Sushi, 2121 H St.
Kin’s Sushi – which opened in District House last month, replacing Onolicious Poke – added a meal deal to its menu Thursday. The restaurant offers either a poke bowl with unlimited toppings or one standard sushi roll with a drink for an $8 lunch deal. The $10 dinner meal is a poke bowl with unlimited toppings and a side of four dumplings.

“My whole mission when I opened the restaurant was to have affordable meal options for students and different, not just poke bowls like how Onolicious used to be, but also vegetarian and vegan-friendly options,” owner and alumna Khin Ngon said.

Panera Bread, 800 21st St.
Students looking for breakfast at Panera Bread can choose one of three sandwiches – either maple-glazed bacon, mediterranean egg white or chipotle chicken and avocado – along with water, coffee or tea as part of a $6 breakfast.

For $8, students can buy either a sandwich, salad or bowl of soup, while $10 covers a “You Pick 2″ – a choice of half a sandwich, a bowl of soup or a salad. Both the dinner and lunch options are available all day and come with a side and a beverage.

General manager Eko Buntoro said Panera began offering meal deals last week as part of its contract with the University. Panera also expanded its hours and offered free snacks during finals last year.

“Hopefully it’s going to boost our sales, too, because more and more students are coming,” Buntoro said.

Flower Child, 2112 Pennsylvania Ave.
Flower Child, a restaurant lauded for its vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, opened this February and added two meal deals in May, general manager Catherine Rivera said.

The restaurant’s $8 lunch deal consists of a choice of a skinny cobb or chopped vegetable salad, plus a 16-ounce drink. For $10, Flower Child offers either a glow bowl or forbidden rice bowl with a 16-ounce drink.

“We wanted to give students something healthy and good for their bodies at a reasonable price because they’re college students,” Rivera said. “For dinner, we gave them something heartier because I know that most people want a bigger dinner, and for lunch, we kept it light because they’re usually on the go and it’s something that’s easy.”

South Block, 2301 G St.
South Block has been offering smoothies and smoothie bowls in Lerner Health and Wellness Center since 2015, before the store’s rebranding. South Block began offering an $8 meal deal for avocado or beet hummus toast with any alkaline water last semester, South Block founder Amir Mostafavi said.

“The University wanted businesses to offer a food item and a drink,” Mostafavi said in an email. “Our smoothies and açai bowls did not really fit the structure for a meal deal that the University was wanting to introduce.”

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