Earlier this year, Campus Auxiliary Services signed into three major five-year agreements and began moving forward with plans to bring Starbucks to the College Union to replace the Campus Grind.
Follett Corporation was retained to operate the Geneseo University Bookstore and Next Generation will continue to provide vending services to the college. An 11-year exclusive relationship with PepsiCo was terminated in favor of a contract that grants Coca-Cola exclusive fountain soda rights and 80 percent of bottled beverage rights.
CAS Executive Director Mark Scott said that the decision to invite Starbucks to campus is based on a strategic initiative to shift from traditional dining halls to restaurants and cafés. "Starbucks had the potential to really help us drive home what we're trying to do," he said.
Sarah Gittere, the general manager of restaurants and cafés as well as Impressions Catering, said that "things are moving along fairly well" and that the store could open by early November pending construction timelines.
The Starbucks will be company-owned and comparable to any other retail location; the company will choose the layout and furniture of the store. Students will be able to use their meal plans on all food, drink and non-retail items.
Additionally, Southside Café and Millennium Market now serve Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Scott said that CAS is looking to be "more serious about coffee on campus" and that after Starbucks is completed, students will eventually be able to purchase niche coffee roasters in Mary Jemison Dining Hall and Books & Bytes Café.
New Pouring Rights Contract
Scott said that although the PepsiCo contract was more financially advantageous, CAS chose the Coca-Cola contract because of a primary objective to "create more value for our campus community." Because the previous contract was exclusive to PepsiCo, it left no flexibility to "meet the needs of Coca-Cola drinkers," Scott said. "Pepsi was not amenable to operating in a shared environment."
Gittere said that the flexibility of the Coca-Cola contract has allowed CAS to support local, minority- and women-owned businesses. "Already we have started to reap the benefits of this contractual agreement," she said.
CAS is currently researching a variety of different drink products that could be distributed on campus alongside existing offerings. Student representatives were involved in the decision making process, and CAS also received 450 responses to its survey. Becky Stewart, marketing coordinator for CAS, said that respondents favored Coca-Cola products 2-to-1.
Innovative Vending Machines
Although CAS will retain Next Generation to provide vending services, the company is unveiling some innovative features, most notably a DigiTouch vending machine in the Integrated Science Center. Scott said that Geneseo's machine is the only one of its kind among colleges in New York State.
The touch screen on the machine enables users to access nutritional content, as well as manipulate the screen so that items are within a comfortable reach. By October, some machines will also feature a program that allows users to get discounts if purchasing multiple products. The machines will also run promotions where users can submit codes for a chance to win products.
Easier Money Management
Beginning early next week, CAS will open up an online card office where students can add money to their meal plan or campus cash account instantaneously. Until now, students have had to make those adjustments in dining halls or the CAS office, which have limited hours of operation.
Donna Bardeen, accounting manager for CAS, said that students who lose their meal plan cards will be able to deactivate them immediately. "The student can take charge instead of stressing," she said.
Students will also now have the opportunity to review transactions made to the card within a 30-day window.
Because Starbucks requires the acceptance of major credit cards, CAS is working to add credit card payment options to other campus eateries, perhaps as early as January in central campus.
More Eating Options
In response to the temporary absence of a coffee outlet in the Union, CAS made adjustments to the menu of Geneseo University Store to include focaccia and new artesian sandwiches. MJ also has a new vegan eatery.
All-you-care-to-eat entry fees have been raised 25 cents in order to offset increases in food and labor costs. "The food coming in our door is more expensive [than before]," Lewis said.
Both Red Jacket and Letchworth Dining Halls, however, are introducing a new "meal upgrade" plan which allows diners to, on special occasions, pay an extra fee in order to receive premium entrees such as strip steak, crab legs, prime rib and shrimp cocktail.
Scott said that one of his major initiatives in the coming years is to dethrone SUNY Brockport from its current ranking of No. 1 in dining services amongst the SUNY system. "We will engage in a very intense campaign to make sure that we take down SUNY Brockport," he said.
Next summer, GUS will undergo renovations that will complete the revamping of the Union as a restaurant location. Mary Jemison, Red Jacket and finally Letchworth Dining Hall are each slated to undergo major renovations in coming years as well.