Back when we were securing the old bookstore space in Usdan as a home for our planned new gameroom, I heard about a plan Aramark was proposing to turn at least part of the area into an expanded convenience store to replace the current C-Store. This plan always puzzled me because Aramark generally insists, at least to students, that with a fixed student population and relatively fixed dining services fees (although they do go up every year at a rate that is probably higher then inflation), they are unable to provide additional dining services, or later hours, or more locations, or whatever.
We were able to obtain longer dining hours last year, but that was due, at least in part, to the opening of the Village residence hall, which ensured an additional 220 or so people on meal plans. But with no new residence halls opening in the near future, why would Aramark want a big new space to replace their little C-Store?
This morning several thoughts came together in my mind and a fairly obvious solution presented itself. Let’s see if this makes sense.
Aramark gets Brandeis to shell out a fair amount of money to create and equip the new space according to Aramark design specs. Of course there will be negotiation and mutual cooperation, but generally Brandeis funds all dining facilities, so Aramark gets the new space for free. Aramark can stock more food and have a larger stock room to store it in. Now, C-Store usage will go up. The C-Store is open the longest hours of any dining location, and they will expand the hours, perhaps keeping it open 24/7. Usage will continue to rise. Sherman and Usdan usage will go down accordingly. It is much cheaper for Aramark to sell pre-packaged and unprepared goods then prepared stuff, so this will be desirable for them. Because of lower usage, they will be able to cut down on dining hours in Usdan and Shapiro, and since staffing a convenience store is easier and cheaper then staffing a full-service kitchen, they will save money.
Students will get fewer dining choices, but the C-Store will be open longer hours and be much better stocked. C-Store prices are unlikely to go down, so students will still pay a premium to shop on campus. Will Aramark continue to oppose the “All-Points” meal plan? Probably yes. Students will be “encouraged” through pricing to purchase combo plans that contain some meals and some points, and with less dining available, will miss more meals. Aramark profits, Brandeis has a nice new C-Store to use and show off on tours, and students get more late night food but less choice.
I don’t think its a malicious plan, but I’m not really sure its needed or useful for students. I’m perfectly happy with us controlling the gameroom space, thankyouverymuch, and I think we’ll probably make better use of it. But it is interesting to think about the other forces that were vying for the space, and the fact that we only got it by virtue of occupying it and refusing to move. 🙂 You know what they say about posession being nine-tenths of the law. Posession + $120,000 in renovation gives you a pretty good claim to a space.