Subway vs. Panera: Dining services weighs restaurant change

| News Editor

Washington University administrators invited students to share their ideas about plans for the dining location in Mallinckrodt Center that is currently occupied by Subway, Nov. 22.

Subway has operated the restaurant in Mallinckrodt since the fall of 2011, and its contract with the University is scheduled to expire by the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Head of Dining Services Greg Miller held a meeting Friday with 20-30 representatives from groups such as Student Union, Deneb Stars, Washington University for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity (WU/FUSED) and Dining Services Advisory Team (DSAT) to discuss options for the 2020-2021 year.

SU Senator junior Sophie Scott attended the meeting and emphasized the importance of ensuring that students have a say in what the University decides to do with the space, since it is the only chain restaurant on campus that takes meal points and is open in the evening.

“Students should have a say in what that restaurant is since we eat there so often,” Scott wrote in a statement to Student Life.

WU/FUSED member Lila Puziss, who attended the meeting, was reassured by the administration’s search for student input.

“The administrator overseeing the new use of the space spent the majority of the time asking for students’ opinions on a new use of the space and seemed genuinely interested as to why students felt the way they did,” Puziss wrote in a statement to Student Life.

Since the spring semester, Student Union has been gathering feedback from students in order to narrow down the possible restaurant options.

Based on the results of Senate’s Improve WashU survey, Panera, Chipotle and Subway were three of the dining options students suggested most frequently. Chipotle turned down the University’s offer.

However, student groups such as WU/FUSED remain concerned about making sure that the new restaurant is priced affordably. These concerns are also echoed by students concerned about using their meal points effectively.

“[Panera] is definitely higher end in terms of price,” sophomore Avery Fredman said. “I think that the food is great. It is on the healthier side. There is good variability, many options, but I think it is a little bit less in terms of quantity of food for a higher price, so I do think you will meet some conflict with that.”

Going forward, Scott hopes that Dining Services will continue to keep the concerns of the students represented by groups such as WU/FUSED and Deneb in mind when listening to proposals from the two restaurants.

“I think we need to see the proposals from both places and continue talking to students about if Panera’s price point and options will be acceptable for all,” Scott said. “What I don’t want to see happen is one of the cheapest and most accessible options on campus for food be taken away if all students don’t think the replacement can meet their needs.”

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