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Delivery services expand - Chinese restaurants will soon accept ValiDine

By Trudy Liu

Students may be able to buy Chinese food with their meal cards by the beginning of the spring term, according to General Manager of Food Service Alan Leo.

The most likely possibilities for such service are Aku-Aku and Kowloon, both of which offer delivery. Currently, only Domino's Pizza allows students to pay for deliveries with their ValiDine cards.

"Students want more delivery services than they can pay for with their meal cards," Leo said. "Our goal is to add one more company prior to spring term, preferably a Chinese restaurant. That's what we're shooting for now."

The three criteria used to evaluate restaurants for the meal card program are delivery hours, agreeable business arrangements and fair value for students. After visiting and talking to most restaurants in the area that deliver, Leo said it was not easy to find restaurants that meet all three criteria.

"We want a delivery service that is available late into the night, preferably 1 or 2 am, and is open seven days a week. The delivery service must also offer good value for the students. Some restaurants charge extra for delivery or specify a minimum order for free delivery, and that doesn't result in the best deal for the students," Leo said.

"The financial and operational arrangement will specify that the restaurant pay a commission to MIT to cover the expenses of the program," Leo said. "The students still get the food at regular prices, yet the restaurant will increase its sales because more students will use the service," he added.

Payback to ARA is stumbling

block with restaurants

A major problem with getting a contract started is the portion the restaurant has to pay back to the ARA, said Michael S. Gull '92, chairperson of the Undergraduate Association Food Service Committee.

"Most companies do not want to pay money to the ARA for the program, but they don't realize how much business they could do with such a program," Gull said. "Domino's Pizza didn't do much business here at MIT before the meal card program. Since the program began, the amount of business it has been doing is incredible -- right now Domino's Pizza has virtually a monopoly," he said.

A contract with either Aku-Aku or Kowloon is almost complete, and that he is waiting for an answer from them on the financial arrangements, Leo said.

"Most of the roadblocks are out of the way, and I'm almost 100 percent sure that we can have a contract by Feb. 1. Right now we are just working out the last details," Leo said. He added that the selection of one restaurant from the two will depend on how each one meets the criteria.

Gull said students with suggestions for future contracts with other delivery services should voice their opinions to members of the food service staff and ARA.

"Many students complain about the food, but they don't try to do anything about it. They should go and say what they think because they have a right to," Gull said.

Students react to proposal

Students interviewed last night reacted positively to the idea of paying for food delivery with their meal cards.

"I think the program is a great idea because students will have more options to choose from without having to use cash," said Erin K. Graham '92. "It's nice to order from a delivery service, especially when you're in your dorm over the weekend and you don't feel like going to Lobdell or the snack bar."

A main reason for students' enthusiasm is the popularity of Chinese food.

"Students want variety, and many of us like Chinese food. If the service is reasonably priced and the food is good, I think most people will like the program a lot," said Elizabeth A. Booth '92.