Star Market To Consider Accepting CardBy Kathy Lin
ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
Star Market has received a proposal from MIT Enterprise Services to accept TechCash via the MIT card. In addition, a local restaurant is now accepting TechCash, and another will be accepting it in the near future.
University Park Star Market Manager Marty O’Halloran said that he is aware that a proposal was submitted by MIT, but only recently began working at Star Market and has not had a chance to look at it.
Passport restaurant, located at the Sidney-Pacific graduate residence, has been accepting TechCash for about eight months now, said Restaurant Manager Gregory Serino. Polcari’s, a new restaurant in Tech Square, is planning on accepting the MIT card soon.
Option benefits students, Star
Reuben L. Cummings ’04, Undergraduate Association dining committee chair, said that additional food vendors accepting TechCash is good for students since “there will be additional locations where they can go to,” and “because some students don’t pay for the money on their card.”
The advantage for vendors, Cummings said, “is that it will widen their customer base because students who didn’t go there before might go there now, or students who do go there might go there more often.”
O’Halloran declined to comment about the MIT proposal to Star Market since he has not yet looked at it.
However, he said that he considered a similar plan to MIT’s when he was working at the Star in Fenway, and said “it could be a good thing,” although it depends on the proposal. He said that the other plan he looked at was not approved because of a “big upcharge,” or initial fixed costs. That plan, unlike MIT’s, was nationwide and would have allowed students from many universities to use their individual cards under one system.
Cummings said that proposals to add TechCash usually require the company to pay for the card reading machines and also to pay a percentage of sales fee to MIT.
However, “generally the increase in sales more than makes up for the sales fee,” he said.
“So far, people seem pretty excited, and most people want to see more locations added to the card,” he said.
TechCash continues to expand
Director of Campus Dining Richard D. Berlin III said that there are ongoing discussions about how to go about adding vendors.
Passport and Polcari’s are the two new vendors for this year, and they are going to “play it by ear and see how that affects the campus operators and whether it’s successful for the off-campus vendors,” he said. “If you add tons of restaurants, then it doesn’t become worthwhile for any one operator to do it.”
Serino said they decided to accept TechCash at Passport “to help the students out,” and that “a good amount” of people use it. However, it has not increased business so far.
Eddie Bisher, manager of Polcari’s, said that Polcari’s also decided to accept TechCash “because of the students. Sometimes they prefer to use the card.” Bisher viewed the possibility of paying with TechCash to be a benefit for patrons and hopes that this new form of payment will increase business.
Berlin said that he and the MIT Card Office are currently working to get Polcari’s on the card, and “that should happen shortly.” A nice feature about Polcari’s, Berlin said, is that unlike residential dining Polcari’s is open on weekends, giving students an additional option.
Alpine Bagel and Arrow Street Crepes, both of which accept the card, are “both doing great,” Berlin said.
Survey to gather feedback
The UA is preparing an online survey to collect students’ feedback about having TechCash accepted at Star Market.
“We’re in the process of fixing the minor details and plan to release the survey on Monday,” said Cummings.
The survey is supposed to “quantify student support for this proposal,” and “information gained from the survey will be used to project future sales increase and given as a report to Star Market,” according to the UA 2003-2004 Goals Checklist.
The survey will be sent to all undergraduate students, and Cummings said that little publicity will be needed for the survey, since the nature of the issue makes it something students would be interested in.