MacGregor Store Is Successful
By A. Arif Husain
Next House Dining Hall Supported by Convenience Store Profits
The MacGregor House convenience store, opened officially in September of last year, has become a virtual monopoly on west campus, reaping high profits that are being diverted to support the failing Next House dining hall.
The convenience store is doing well, said student manager Maria D. Fabrikarakis '96. "If we weren't making money, [Next House dining hall] would be closed right away. We're losing there and making here, so it evens out," she said.
The convenience store is successful because it fills a need for late night snacks, with most sales in the late evening, according to Eddie Cogliano, manager of Next House dining hall and the MacGregor convenience store.
"I like the convenience store. I think it serves its purpose well. I just wished that the prices were low," said MacGregor resident Eric L. Gravengaard '97. "Obviously they have a great location, but that isn't a license to overcharge."
The Next House dining hall is "not even breaking even," but it fulfills a need on west campus and closing it has not been discussed, Cogliano said.
"It's hard to segregate all the operations into their own piece," said General Manager of Aramark Food Services Robert McBurney. Aramark, formerly called ARA, is contracted by MIT to operate food services all over campus.
Since the contract deals with the entire package, no operation can be singled out, he said. "One [dining facility] helps the other out and we look at it all as one," he said. "It's all one number."
Dining hall is far
The disparity between the two west campus operations is that since Next House is the farthest dormitory, many students who are away in the evening prefer to dine elsewhere before returning home, Cogliano said.
"We usually can't eat [at Next House Dining Hall]" said Next House resident Adam B. Cotner '96, who has sports practice each evening. "But it would probably be impractical to extend [the hours] past eight," he said.
Another major difference is in the consumer pool, Cogliano said. The convenience store conducts most of its sales between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., with only light sales between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. The Next House dining hall, open only from 5 to 8 p.m., attracts a different set of customers, Cogliano said.
The convenience store is popular since it targets consumers who are interested in snack foods and late-night dining, Cogliano said. The two cannot be compared, he said.
The convenience store was introduced tentatively to meet the needs of residents who requested snack foods and light breakfast items early in the day. After its initial success, Cogliano recognized the need to make it permanent, he said.
Efforts are being made to promote the Next House dining hall through improvements and advertising, Cogliano said. Next House dining hall is one of two dining halls that remain on west campus.
The McCormick House and MacGregor dining halls were closed in spring 1993 for financial reasons. The future of Next House dining hall has not been set, Cogliano said.
"I like having the convenience and variety [of the Next House Dining Hall]," said Next House resident Thomas T. Kawamoto Jr. '96. "I think it could be better, but if it continues to be like this, I'll continue to eat here."
"I don't think it would be a big loss," Next House resident Brian L. Wright '95 said. "I would deal with eating at Lobdell" Court.
The issue of dining on west campus comes as part of a larger Institute-wide policy of re-engineering. As part of general budget cuts, campus food services have been evaluated, McBurney said.
This year, unlike past years, there will be no budget deficit for food service, McBurney said. McBurney refused to disclose past deficit amounts.
Additionally, beginning this year, the Institute no longer subsidizes food services, McBurney said. Instead, Aramark Food Services has been given the responsibility to provide services around campus.
The five-year contract with Aramark, which has been renewed in the past, is scheduled for termination at the end of spring term 1996. McBurney did not know if it will be renewed.