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Daily Egyptian

Student Center to lose eateries

By Matt Daray

Students and faculty may soon lose some favorite Student Center food chains.

Chartwells, a school and university dining service, ended its SIU contract, so every first-floor food shop besides McDonald’s will cease operations by June 1, Student Center director Tena Bennett said. The change has led to student speculation as to which restaurants may replace stores such as Blimpie, Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks.

Bennett said Chartwells didn’t give a reason why it canceled the contract.

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“The way the contract’s written, they could request to be released within 180 days of the start date of the contract,” she said.

Although all vendors other than McDonald’s will leave, she said officials are already in the replacement process. The university has released a dining request proposal, she said, which allows companies to bid on Student Center spots. She said the university will receive them by the end of the month.

Kristine Andrews, Chartwell communications and media relations director, said the company is pleased to work with colleges and universities interested in outsourcing dining programs, but the contract’s end is a business decision. Although the business is leaving, the university will have to decide how to deal with Chartwells’ vendor, employees she said.

“Chartwells is proud to provide associates with opportunities to help shape their careers and lives in a positive, productive work environment,” Andrews said. “Associates belong to a union. It will be up to the university and the new dining services provider to retain or not retain associates.”

While the change may upset some, Bennett said it has opened up opportunities for the university.

“There’s a possibility that some people will be upset if they really like these (restaurants), but we’re hoping to bring in some new and exciting concepts that will offer a new flavor,” she said.

With Chartwells’ departure, Chancellor Rita Cheng said new opportunities will be researched regarding how vendors are attained.

“We are planning now for a different approach to all of the food vending on campus,” she said. “We have a request for proposals out for individual businesses to bring in their restaurants or their franchises to the campus.”

Cheng said preferred caterers, concession and banquet personnel will do business over the next few months to deal with restaurants’ absence. Although Starbucks is operated by Chartwells, Cheng said the university is working to retain it.

Finding shops to replace Chartwells-contracted restaurants may be more difficult because of the fine print listed in contracts the Daily Egyptian obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the Student Center restaurant contract, new restaurants cannot compete with businesses already in place.

This means McDonald’s can be the only hamburger provider, so restaurants such as Wendy’s and Burger King cannot operate in the first-floor dining area. If another sandwich shop replaces Blimpies, it can be the only restaurant to provide sandwiches.

Students have mixed reactions about Chartwells’ ending contract.

Jamel Braylock, a sophomore from Chicago studying accounting, said he enjoys the Student Center’s restaurants, and he was shocked to learn of their departure.

“They shouldn’t take it away,” he said. “Not everyone likes McDonald’s. They need to keep a mass variety for different people.”

Alexandra Vadeboncouer, a junior from Kankakee studying management, said she is bothered by the restaurants’ quick withdrawal, especially since McDonald’s will be the sole remnant.

“McDonald’s is the least healthy restaurant that’s there,” she said. “If anybody is eating healthy, they can’t eat at McDonald’s, obviously, so they’d probably be upset and not eat at the Student Center anymore.”

Jatoya Hale, a sophomore from Chicago studying nursing, said she would like to see healthier choices to replace the Chartwells restaurants.

“I would probably like to see more healthy foods (and) not really too many fast foods,” she said.

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