New Networks, other ARA projects called successful
By Sarah Keightley
Several of ARA's new food service programs have met with success in their first month, according to Alan Leo, general manager of food service. ARA will continue to make changes in the food service program this year, he said.
According to Leo, the biggest September successes for ARA have been the new Networks restaurant and a contract with Dunkin' Donuts. Last year, Leo reported, Networks served about 250 people a day. This year, approximately 1000 people eat there daily. Leo said that roughly 40 percent of Networks customers eat Pizza Hut pizza, while 60 percent order from the regular restaurant menu. Pizza Hut is more popular than was originally anticipated, selling 700 to 800 pizzas a day, with many people buying two at a time.
Many students are much happier with the new Networks. Jeffrey J. Kim '93 said he likes the "more relaxed atmosphere." Jarrod M. Lewis '92 mentioned that the prices are better than last year, but he believes that Networks is popular right now because it is a novelty. "It seems like in a month it won't be as crowded." One reason students preferred the pizza to the menu items was that it takes less time.
Nancy C. Koay '92 was less enthusiastic, however. "I liked Networks a lot better last year, when there was more of a restaurant atmosphere. You take your parents there and feel comfortable, but now it's gotten crowded and noisy," she said.
Dunkin' Donuts products
have a significant impact
The availability of Dunkin' Donuts has also impacted significantly on food service. Three locations on campus now sell Dunkin' Donuts coffee, doughnuts and muffins: Lobdell Court, Refresher Course in the Sloan School of Management and the Infinite Corridor bagel cart. "I have been told that people will go out of their way to get Dunkin' Donuts coffee," Leo said.
Other than these obvious successes, "It is a bit too early to judge if [other food service programs] are successful or not," Leo said. "As we go through the year, we'll be making changes to meet [students'] needs."
Leo said he is pleased with the progress of ARA's new mini-convenience stores in Next House and Pritchett Lounge. Last year, ARA began experimenting with the mini-convenience store idea, offering 25 to 30 products. Because that program did quite well, ARA expanded the idea this year, expanding the Next House store to 750 items. Pritchett has less space and less product variety, but it is also doing well and products are selling. Michael K. Chung '94 said, "[Pritchett] is a lot more convenient now." He, along with other students, likes being able to use a meal card to buy a wider variety of items, such as laundry detergent.
"After one month, we know how to adjust the product mix. People are buying a lot of cereal, laundry detergent and surprisingly supplies, such as paper and pencils," Leo said. Items which are not selling well, such as candy, will be reduced to make more room for popular products. This way, a greater variety of cereals may soon be offered, he explained.
to come this year
Upcoming changes for this year include renovation of the Walker Memorial dining facility and of Refresher Course. ARA wants to "keep with the architectural motif" of Walker Memorial. But Walker is not being restored just for aesthetic reasons. "Practically speaking, the equipment is old and doesn't work properly. It's time for [changes]," Leo said. These areas will be altered during Independent Activities Period.
Changes are planned for Lobdell Court as well. A permanent stir-fry station will be put in, and there will be grill-area changes. The "Allegro" pasta bar will be redesigned, with the pasta-making machine and three pasta cookers in full view. Also, a permanent Dunkin' Donuts area will be added. Finally, the current convenience section will be more unified since it is presently "confusing to a certain extent," Leo said.
ARA is also looking into a contract with TCBY for frozen yogurt. Colombo yogurt is currently available, but ARA wants to see what its customers prefer. Yogurt will be sold in the renovated Walker and Refresher Course food areas.
Looking into the future, ARA hopes to address the needs of health-conscious and vegetarian students. Leo mentioned that the mayonnaise used by ARA was changed to a cholesterol-free brand a few weeks ago. ARA is currently working on salad dressings, possibly arranging a contract with Ken's Salad Dressing, which offers a line of "light" dressings. "The objective is to be able to offer something vegetarian at every station," Leo said. ARA wants to provide "options" for this segment of the community, he added.
"We're really encouraging people to give us their feedback. [We] tend to be very flexible," Leo said. There will be a customer satisfaction survey the week of Oct. 14, and a food preference survey the following week. "We're open to any input students have," he said.