New Student Center dining spots bring in almost $700k in fall semester

CDS targeted off-campus students with the Student
Spencer Pearson / Graphic Designer

With the opening of five new dining options in the MU Student Center, Campus Dining Services saw a rise in overall retail business and a 308% increase in business at the student center during the fall semester.

The Student Center locations alone took in $684,889 from July 1 to Nov. 30, 2010. That figure is an increase of about $463,000 over what the temporary Student Center locations, The Lunchbox and Truman's Takeout, took in during the same time period in 2009.

Although information about revenue from residential dining locations is not yet available, CDS officials said the new retail operations have had a high volume of transactions and a good response from diners.

“Those locations have been pretty well-received and pretty busy,” CDS spokesman Andrew Lough said. “It’s hard to compare to what was there previously because before that opened, it was one small location, Truman’s Takeout, which was a temporary place.”

While sales at the new retail locations increased, other campus operations such as Bookmark Café in Ellis Library have seen a drop in revenue.

Campus officials said the renewed activity in the MU Student Center could increase sales in the adjacent bookstore. Student Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said students eating in the student center would be more prone to impulse shopping now that the two buildings are adjoined.

“I think that it’s going to be very good to have all of that traffic coming in and out,” Froese said. “They’re going to look at their numbers at the end of the fiscal year, but they’ve seen some more walk-through traffic, and I suspect it will continue to be that way.”

CDS officials also said Rollins Dining Hall has seen increased business.

“Rollins has really picked back up to where it left off before renovations,” Lough said. “They do good business at breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Rollins’ new late night operation has been particularly popular.

“Because Gillett’s still closed, we still don’t have our full customer base at Rollins, but compared to last year’s fall semester, we’re seeing fewer customers at dinner and more at Rollins Late Night,” CDS Director Julaine Kiehn said.

With the final phase of the MU Student Center construction finishing ahead of schedule, CDS begins the spring semester with the opening of another dining option, Mort’s, which serves traditional American fare.

“We focus on having a wide variety of option in the Student Center,” Kiehn said. “Mort’s brought back the burgers and the chicken that I think people were missing.”

The newly opened portions of the MU Student Center include a new Mizzou Market that is larger than the previous Brady Commons location, a US Bank and study rooms, as well as billiards and shuffleboard tables in Mort’s.

“I think students will be really pleased because this part of the Student Center wasn’t supposed to be done until later in the semester,” Froese said.

The opening of Mort’s marks the last major change in dining options for the 2010-2011 academic year, but CDS will shift its focus to changes in residential dining options next fall. Eva J’s will be converted into Sabai, which will serve East Asian fare. Sabai will be an á la carte operation patterned after Baja Grill. CDS will use the next semester to determine the menu offerings.

“We’ve tested a number of items with students this past semester and will continue to test this semester,” Kiehn said.

With the new dining locations, CDS officials said they aim to provide nearby alternatives for those who might normally go off-campus to eat.

“Students, faculty and staff began going off-campus just because there were fewer options,” Lough said. “We’re excited to provide more options to students and staff on-campus.”

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