Updated Oct. 1 to reflect story in print edition
Sodexo received final approval Wednesday to replace recently closed Sidelines Pub with a Subway, which is expected to open this January according to Sodexo Food Service Director Ira Simon.
“What brought Subway to campus was this whole analysis, this whole master plan, that we’re trying to implement in improving our retail,” said Simon. “We believe the Subway here is going to make a positive change and give a positive addition to what we’re trying to offer our students.”
The project, which will cost Sodexo $100,000, will re-model current counter space in the restaurant with new Subway equipment. However, the layout of the rest of the restaurant will remain unchanged, Simon said. Students will be able to use meal plan cash as well as flex cash for their meals.
“We’re not doing anything with the wall, we’re not doing anything with the ceiling and we’re not doing anything with the floors and carpet,” Simon said. “We’re focusing on that counter space.”
However, numerous students have voiced displeasure with the choice. Some argue they want the Pub to remain in Driscoll Underground while others say Sodexo should have chosen another food vendor rather than Subway.
“DU is striving to do things that set them apart and push them forward, and when you get the most watered-down vanilla food chain there is, that’s not thinking like a high-end university,” said Luke Niforatos, a communications major who graduated last year. Niforatos said he would have liked to see a restaurant featuring DU students, such as giving DUGS an indoor space or giving students of HRTM a food service.
“They could have done a lot more with it than just a Subway and putting in a little sandwich shop,” Niforatos said. “Especially when there is another one five minutes down the street.”
The decision to replace the Pub comes after a survey conducted in the spring of 2012, called the Comprehensive Account Review, to determine where students most often eat.
“One important thing we found out was that 19 percent of the population was in Sturm Hall at noon,” said Simon. “From that, we know that we were only capturing in our facilities (at Driscoll)…12 percent of that population to eat with us.”
With longtime university plans to remodel Driscoll temporarily postponed, Simon said Sodexo wanted to change dining options in the building sooner, prompting them to present the idea of bringing Subway to campus. He said Subway was, statistically, one of the restaurants students showed an interest in having on campus.
“Everything we’ve done was based on statistics,” said Simon. “It wasn’t just because we’d done it somewhere else … we really used what I would call evidence-based decision-making.”
The plan has been stalled for several weeks, after the owner for the Subway on University Blvd. “expressed some concerns,” according to Simon. The decision was, however, reviewed and approved by Subway’s national corporation.
Simon says he hopes to see more success with the Subway than the Pub saw in recent years. According to Simon, the Pub served about 300 customers daily.
“The problem was that number had been stagnant for the past four years. It didn’t grow, it declined a little bit in the last year,” he said. Simon expects to see 1,000 customers daily at Subway when it opens.
Subway is the first in a series of national brands Simon hopes to eventually bring to campus. He also hopes to bring a Starbucks and World of Wings in the future.
“The thing about national brands is they increase satisfaction and they increase sales. They’re not necessarily more profitable because they do cost more to operate,” Simon said. “It’s not necessarily about us doing better, but increasing satisfaction is a primary concern of ours, and a goal of ours, so if we could increase satisfaction and increase our sales, then we have the chance to be successful.”