Chick-Fil-A, Steak ‘n’ Shake thrive while students lack late, weekend options

Freshman Alicia Fredrick doesn’t have other sources for meals when the restaurants on campus are closed on weekends.

“It’s kind of disappointing,” the business management major from California said. “The money I have in my plan is all I’m relying on, so for (the university) to expect me to find food somewhere else is a little ridiculous.”

As a freshman SGA member at-large, Fredrick said she and other representatives are expressing the need for more food options and hours on the weekends for campus residents.

Sodexo General Manager Lamar Patterson said there are no plans to extend any of the dining hours.

Currently, the Loft is open for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cyclone Salads and Steak ‘n’ Shake are the only restaurants open in the evenings on Sundays.

“I understand that those places are open, but those are very different kinds of meals,” Frederick said. “For international students, the place that can best accommodate them is The Loft.”

For a comparison, The Shield looked at the dining options at other some other universities around the state. Indiana University, Ball State University and Indiana State University have at least three campus eateries open on Sunday evenings and most options still open on Saturdays.

University of Evansville has two restaurants open on Saturdays and Sundays, including the main cafeteria.

Frederick said the freshman representatives have tried to e-mail Sodexo multiple times without response, but the SGA Chief Justice with Sodexo representatives in the upcoming weeks.

Senior marketing major Kayla Whitaker said because she works late hours at the Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center, there’s usually only one or two eateries open when she clocks out.

However, she said she appreciates Sodexo’s efforts in replacing Burger King and Archie’s Pizzeria with Chick-Fil-A and Steak ‘n’ Shake.

“I like how there’s more variety,” Whitaker said. “Archie’s was basically the same as the C-Store.”

She said while she wishes some hours were extended, she’s mostly satisfied.

“It’s been better since Chick-Fil-A and Steak ‘n’ Shake came,” Whitaker said.

As head of Sodexo, Patterson said the two new eateries are performing much better than the options they replaced.

“If you want to compare them, Chick-Fil-A is making 2.5 times what Burger King was, and Steak ‘n’ Shake has twice as much business as Archie’s did,” he said. “They have pulled (revenue) from the other options, Fiesta Fuego, Cyclone Salads and SubConnection, though.”

Patterson said the reason he has no plans to extend dining hours is the lack of late-night and weekend university programming.

“The university had that 24/7 campus initiative, but it’s a problem to have (dining options) open when there are no students here,” he said.

Right now, Patterson said Sodexo is focusing its efforts on the “You Plan,” ideal for returning students.

“It’s a really discounted meal plan,” he said. “After you’ve been on a Sodexo meal plan for two consecutive semesters, you qualify for this plan that gives you more dollars and more flexibility.”

Patterson said the average price of a meal on the new plan is $4.41.

“It encourages students to stay on the plan,” he said. “Where can you get a meal for $4.41?”

Patterson said Sodexo tries to stay in touch with what students want and need, and he doesn’t believe that includes extended dining hours.

“If the university has two or three things going on in the evening, we might expand,” he said, “but we are not looking at extending any hours at this time.”

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