VCU Dining updates offerings for new year

Michael Pasco
Contributing Writer

Returning students will have noticed by now that some VCU Dining locations have changed since last year. Most notably, Starbucks replaced the Quiznos location at Barnes and Noble.

As a business, Quiznos did not have a good year. The brand faced bankruptcy and a deal was made with Avenue Capital Group in order to lower the debt.

“(Our own) Quiznos sales have declined 28 percent in the past year,” said Dan McDonald, assistant director of VCU business services.

The spot in Barnes and Noble has been replaced by Monroe Park Campus’ third Starbucks, a cafe often associated with the bookstore.

“Starbucks is arguably the most popular brand that we have on campus,” McDonald said. “Students love them. They have expanded their offerings, and they are more than just coffee.”

Unlike the Starbucks at Cabell Library, the new location in Barnes and Noble only takes Rambucks, not dining dollars.

“I don’t think students miss the Quiznos as much as the availability of meal swipes,” said McDonald. The differing policy frustrates some students.

“It shouldn’t be in VCU’s Barnes and Noble if you can’t use VCU’s meal plan,” said sophomore Jalen Gregory.

This change coincided with the opening of Laurel and Grace Place, home to Raising Cane’s, IHOP Express and Croutons, Salads and Wraps. All of these vendors have offerings on the dining plan for students with meal plans and their hours have shifted to be more accommodating.

Cane’s and Croutons are now open until 1 a.m. through the week. IHOP will also be closing at 1 a. m. Sunday through Wednesday, but will retain its previous hours of 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. for Thursday through Saturday.

“You can still get better quality food at a later hour … [but] it doesn’t overwork the IHOP (employees),” said sophomore Marc Noronha. “You get more variety, and you don’t have to deal with lines out the door anymore.”

IHOP broadened its meal exchange menu by giving customers the option to swipe for fully customized omelets, grilled cheese or grilled chicken sandwiches.

Other VCU Dining locations such as Bleeker Street, located in Snead Hall, and Croutons, have also altered their chip selection. Miss Vickie’s chips, once a staple at the locations, have been replaced by Lay’s, SunChips and Doritos.

“It’s not that they’re no longer available. We only switched because students asked us to switch due to variety,” said ARAMARK District Manager Michael Martin. “We could probably do a combination of both. It’s never been one or the other.”

Chick-fil-A has been in headlines lately regarding their stance on gay rights. VCU officials have stated that it will be monitoring the situation of VCU’s Chik-fil-A.

“VCU Dining Services is committed to VCU’s equal opportunity policy and firmly upholds the university’s non-discrimination policy. VCU’s business partners and vendors must comply with this policy as well,” VCU Dining Services said in a statement.

Shafer Food Court has also seen its share of changes, though more cosmetic than the other dining locations.

The deli, introduced during spring semester of 2012, will now be where the dessert section was.

“We can grill it, panini it, and turbochef [heat] it now,” said Martin. The dessert section is now located next to the pizza station.

Additionally, a new “Eat Well” station in Market 810 will allow students to pick up a full meal cooked to go with 500 calories or less, according to marketing and public relations manager of VCU business services Kristan Cole.

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