Starbucks moves forward

Matt Clark and Matt Clark

The contract has been signed, and the Starbucks flag will soon be raised in the union.

That, and many other changes to University Dining Service’s options, including the reopening of a snack shop in the Harshman Quadrangle, will be made over the next year.

Starbucks, an international chain of retail stores that offers high-quality whole bean coffees, espresso drinks, confectionaries, pastries, and coffee-related accessories and equipment, opened its first store in 1971 in Seattle, Washington. Its name comes from a character in the Herman Melville novel Moby Dick.

Its newest store will be opening in the current location of the Carnation Café in the Union sometime next school year. The franchise will be owned by the University.

“Best case we’re looking at fall break, worst case we’re looking at winter break,” Gail Finan, Director of University Dining Services said of the expected timeline for the store’s opening.

However, residents of the Harshman Quadrangle should be able to purchase food from an ice cream sweetshop located in the space previously occupied by the Galley snack bar when classes begin in the fall.

The idea for the sweetshop is in response to a lack of dining options for Harshman residents.

“Since Harshman is a freestanding building, there does need to be some sort of a foodservice in that building for the residents, because if you want to just run down and get some things there should be some options other than a vending machine,” Dave Maley, Assistant Director of Dining Services said.

While the plan is for the sweetshop to open in the fall, ideas for the new snack bar are in their infancy and students are encouraged to provide their input into the design process.

“If anybody wants to e-mail [Dave Maley] some ideas, we’re still in the planning stages. We are going to do this as design on a dime…it’ll be a shoestring budget,” Finan said.

However, “the sky is the limit in the long run,” Maley said.

The Galley was originally closed after Dining Services acted on recommendations from the Colorado-based Ricca Planning Studio, which analyzed a market research survey sent to all students and faculty early in 2003.

The Ricca Group also recommended that Dining Services open a Starbucks retail outlet in the Union.

The group gave many reasons for that recommendation, including the fact that Starbucks has a lack of retail outlets in Northwest Ohio.

“So that’s why they decided to go with Starbucks, is they just felt: now’s the time, this is a great market for it, there is none around here, you’ve got a beautiful space, and it’s very easily adapted to the Starbucks format/layout,” Maley said of the Ricca Group’s recommendation.

The store’s layout is the main reason for the delay in its opening. Mainly because of the difficulties associated with removing the Carnation Café, and approving the new store’s schematic.

“The problem is, they’ve got to demolish the café,” Maley said. “They’ve got to redo the plumbing, they’ve got to dig up the floor…So, I mean, that’s going to take a little time to get the room back to its raw state, and then to get the process of the renovation in, because it is actually two processes.”

Dining Services is also making changes to their summer options, including the ability to use all meal card money in the Union.

The idea to eliminate Flexfunds for the summer, Finan said, was a no-brainer, because they were originally implemented to send money back into residential dining centers that are closed during the summer sessions.

“Because we don’t have any residential dining facilities open, we thought it would make the students happy to be able to use any leftover money or any money they buy to go into the union,” Finan said.

This decision coincided with an increase in Flexfunds for students purchasing meal plans in 2004-05, including a $25 increase in the limited plan.

Dining Services will also continue to offer sushi from the Uraku Japanese Restaurant on Thursdays in the Union during the summer. The sushi is normally served on Tuesdays in the Founders Keepers Food Court during the fall and spring semesters.

There will also be barbeques on Tuesdays, in front of the Union, beginning June 8.