Have it your way

In January, a Burger King will be the latest restaurant entrepreneur to open at USF, continuing Dining Services’ re-haul of food services on campus. The fast food restaurant is a $1.3-million project along with a Starbucks, which will be added to the Library for $316,000.

Tom Williamson, resident district manager of Dining Services, said Burger King and Starbucks are the final additions, for now, to what has been Aramark’s ongoing plans to add brand name food services to USF.

Both are part of a request proposal that was presented to Aramark, USF’s food service provider, in which $6.5 million was allocated from the company to improve USF’s food services, Williamson said.

“In return we’re looking to increase the sales on campus,” Williamson said.

Williamson said the funds allocated to Dining Services have also been used to bring Freshens, Ben n’ Jerry’s, Fresh Food Company and renovations to restaurants in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

Aramark brings Burger King and Starbucks to campus as brand name vendors. This has been done in the past with Chick-fil-A and Einstein Bagels Bros, said Jeff Mack, director of auxiliary services at USF. Burger King will be housed on campus in its own building as an extension to the University Lecture Hall and is scheduled to open Jan. 5. Meanwhile, a Starbucks will be added to the Library in a larger setting than what was provided for the former coffee house, Java, and is scheduled to open Dec. 8.

Williamson said Dining Services didn’t have the option to add Burger King to an existing building because the space needed wasn’t available. A hood system is needed for ventilation when grilling hamburgers.

“It limits what you can do with existing building space,” Williamson said.

The idea to bring a Burger King and Starbucks to campus developed about two years ago with a study conducted at USF, Williamson said.

“The food service committee went out and did a marketing analysis of the university and what the students, faculty and staff were looking for when the food service contract went out to bid,” Williamson said. “New brand concepts, different food service choices, were included in the bid process and what we put together in our proposal and got the ideas for Fresh Food, Burger King and Einstein’s.”

Even before Aramark won the bid in June 2002 for a five-year contract to be USF’s food service provider, a food service consultant was hired to conduct a marketing analysis, which was a deciding factor in bringing Burger King and Starbucks to campus.

Mack said Dining Services contacted the Faculty Senate and Student Government, requesting representatives to serve on focus groups. About 10 focus groups met with the food service consultant and were asked what type of food options they were looking for and expected in the future, with an Internet survey posted on the Dining Service’s Web site to follow up with the remainder of the USF population.

“The desire was to do a grill concept, and Aramark has a relationship with Burger King,” Mack said.

Though all food service providers that competed for USF’s contract offered opportunities to bring name brand food chains to campus. Mack said he doesn’t see a trend developing in constructing separate facilities for restaurants on campus.

“That’s an option and it’s expensive to do that, certainly,” Mack said. “It’s not a matter of ‘Oh, it will look good here.’ It depends on the space we have to do that.”

For now, Williamson said, Burger King and Starbucks are the last of the additions Dining Services is making at USF.

“There’s currently no plans to bring any other food chains on campus,” Williamson said. “We’re open to suggestions but currently we don’t have anything in the plans going.”