In a few months, you’ll be able grab an iced venti mocha or a cold sandwich right after working out.
The ARC will open a fully-licensed, Sodexo-operated Starbucks – with genuine Starbucks drinks, architecture and merchandise – on Jan. 5. ARC officials have been planning to introduce Starbucks for some time, though the move happens to come in a year when the 5-year-old facility has made several cost-cutting moves.
The Starbucks will occupy the space of the now-closed café at the ARC, which was also operated by Sodexho. Despite several attempts to appeal to students – such as introducing fruit smoothies and paninis – the popularity of the café never took off, said Paul Dorn, assistant director of campus recreation.
“The product line never met any appropriate expectations by the department or student populations here. As a result of fairly low revenue streams, Sodexho couldn’t keep the café open during ARC hours and that was a disappointment to us and to our patrons,” Dorn said.
The ARC’s Starbucks will be noise-proof and offer its signature lounge atmosphere, he said.
Though one might find irony in adding a restaurant that serves 300-calorie drinks in a recreation building, Dorn said that Starbucks will offer nutritional choices, and that the project has been vetted and reviewed through Student Affairs, the university administration and the Campus Recreation Advisory Board.
But even at the prior café, coffee was the hottest-selling item, Dorn said. With the new Starbucks, “the brand strength will allow it to have greater patronage,“ he said.
As with the prior café, Campus Recreation will get a share of Starbucks‘ profits, which will go into its general income line. Recreation officials project “much better patronage, which will yield much better revenue [to] pay student salaries and maintain equipment.“
The ASUCD Coffee House is not expected to be negatively impacted by the impending arrival of Starbucks, said director Sharon Coulson.
“The CoHo is a destination point itself and we already hold our own in the competition that surrounds us,” she said.
In another cost-reducing move, the ARC no longer rents locks, table tennis balls, badminton shuttlecocks and racquetballs. The latter three items are available for individual purchase at the ARC’s Pro Shop for $0.23, $2.50 and $1.50, respectively.
The cost of repairing, replacing, and administering the lease of the equipment became cost-prohibitive, Dorn said. The new policy will save the department approximately $1,000 per month, he said.
ARC officials say there have been no complaints about the new policy, and students don’t seem to be particularly angry.
“Though it is still an inconvenience for students who may only want to play at the ARC every once in a while and don’t want to buy the equipment, it is not a very drastic one,” said Erica Oropeza, an ASUCD senator and senior sociology major. “Considering that [the fees] are still on a relatively small scale, it can be understandable because these items may undergo continuous wear & tear and the replacement costs may just be too much for the ARC to withstand.“
But Anna Harris, a junior biological sciences major, said she rented locks and finds the new policy inconvenient.
“I think that if students are paying fees to use the ARC, they should be able to rent the equipment they might need,” she said.
According to ARC officials, last school year 1.1 million people visited the facility for fitness and another 1.2 million people visited the ARC to attend training sessions, workshops, commencements and other meetings.
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.