CAS considers additional franchises, local partnerships as it plans to increase services

Campus Auxiliary Services has begun assessing different options for on-campus dining, including the possibility of entering into a franchise agreement with restaurants like Panera Bread (pictured above) or Tim Horton’s Cafe and Bake Shop.  Students have offered conflicting opinions about the plan CAS should pursue.  (Mike Mozart/Creative Commons)

Campus Auxiliary Services will explore new dining restaurants for the college over the next six months in preparation for an upcoming multi-year capital plan. Students have expressed differing perspectives as to the direction CAS should take. 

This initiative comes in response to the approaching completion of several on-campus franchising contracts and projects, according to Executive Director of CAS Mark Scott.

“When I started here in 2007, we got to work right away on renovating our facilities,” Scott said. “Everything you see in our restaurants and cafes has been renovated. But now what was new is old.”

“We want to reimagine the Books & Bytes experience. We need to reimage the Starbucks experience, since our contract is up in two years,” Scott said. “That being said, we need to open Red Jacket first. Red Jacket will reopen in the fall, so we probably won’t be able to complete another project for two more years.”

CAS has begun evaluating a number of national and local franchising options to open on-campus, including Spot Coffee, Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop and Panera Bread to help determine whether to proceed with its current franchising contracts, Scott said.

CAS has been interested in adding a Panera Bread restaurant to campus in the past, but was unable to move forward, as the company did not have a licensing program. Now that Panera Bread has created a franchising program, CAS plans to revisit this possibility, according to Scott. 

In addition to analyzing franchising opportunities, CAS intends to investigate the possibility of partnering with local restaurants to help expand Geneseo’s current meal plan offerings, according to Scott. Scott hopes that this will provide support to local restaurants, some of which do not accept meal plan.

“For us, we try to lead with what we think is also important in the minds of our Geneseo community. So we try to keep as many of our dollars here,” Scott said. “You lose that when you partner with a nationally branded concept. Sometimes in that situation, you don’t get to maintain the community. As we determine what happens next, we also want to open a dialogue about what is best for our campus community.”

Beyond looking toward partnerships with other institutions, Director of Marketing at CAS Mallory Giambra plans to use her experience working with food services at Rochester Institute of Technology to help develop Geneseo’s new dining options.

“At RIT, they aim to keep everything local,” Giambra said. “There’s only one franchise, which is Ben & Jerry’s. We tried to keep all money within RIT. Some of the things we did to help that was introduce visiting chefs. We had chefs from Dinosaur BBQ and Thali of India on-campus every day, which offset the need to have a franchise on-campus. This may be something we look into doing here to provide more variety for our campus community.”

Students have mixed opinions about how CAS should approach future dining offerings.

Psychology major junior Mackenzie Garver would like to see CAS partner with more local restaurants.

“I would definitely like to use my meal plan at more restaurants around Main Street,” Garver said. “I think it’s a great way to help support the local economy and promote restaurants that some students haven’t been able to try yet.”

Conversely, business administration major senior Taylor Stuart hopes that CAS will add more national franchising options to campus.

“I’d like to see the college add a Panera Bread to campus and I hope it will continue its franchising contract with Starbucks,” Stuart said. “I like these options because they’re recognizable, convenient options for students on-the-go.”