Photo courtesy of Chartwells
A deal reached between Xavier and Chartwells, the company that operates the Hoff Dining Commons, will place Chartwells in charge of managing the retail options in Gallagher Student Center (GSC) in exchange for a $2 million investment that will go toward renovating the ground floor of GSC.
“We will be wanting to do a full makeover, front and back of the house, in the basement of Gallagher, which is going to take a major investment,” Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services Jude Kiah said. “We have partnered with Chartwells to assist us in that endeavor.”
The decision to renovate the ground floor level of GSC comes as the result of a year-long student feedback initiative in which 1200 students participated.
“That information was used not as a business decision but was used to inform us on what students like and what students dislike about what we currently had,” Kiah said. “There was a very clear sense that the basement in Gallagher had very significant service and execution and desirability issues.”
Logistically, this means that Ryan’s Pub, Subway and Blue Gibbon will all close and be replaced with Chartwells-managed restaurants by, if everything goes according to plan, the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. As far as Coffee Emporium’s status in GSC, Kiah says the ball is in their court.
“Coffee Emporium has different arrangements with different entities where they sell their products wholesale to them, and we’ve offered them that arrangement. We haven’t asked for an answer yet, but we have extended them that offer,” Kiah said. “It’s up to them to choose whether or not to sell us their products, to continue the training, etc. That’s up to them. What is not up to them is that Chartwells will manage those businesses as part of this deal.”
According to Kiah, the other retail businesses located outside of GSC, like Currito, Faves and Starbucks, will stay.
The deal hasn’t officially been signed yet, but verbal agreements have been made. At this point it’s just a matter of signing the paperwork, which Kiah estimated could take up to six weeks depending on how quickly the legal process procedes.
“Here’s where it is at the moment,” Kiah said. “Father (Graham) endorsed the plan, the cabinet was briefed on the plan, and the Chartwells CEO and the Compass Group executive representation have all agreed in principle verbally to this deal. There are obviously still contracts to be signed, but it has been agreed to in principle.”
Despite concerns that students who work at the establishments in GSC will all lose their jobs, Kiah stated the opposite. According to Kiah, there is “no question” that this new deal could actually create more jobs for students as demand in that area is increased in addition to current employees keeping their positions if they want to.
“In all of this,” Kiah said, “none of the hourly, none of the students would lose their jobs. (Chartwells) would take those people back, so there’s no one losing their jobs.”
In a statement given to the Newswire, Café Operations Manager for Coffee Emporium Xabier Aizpuru said, “We, at Coffee Emporium, were surprised, saddened and disappointed by this decision. We were not included in any discussion. We have invested significant time, effort and financial resources in our two campus locations… We also recognize and value the time and effort of all the Xavier students who have worked at our campus cafes over the years. Xavier asked us to stay open at both locations until our lease expires at the end of June 2018, and that is our intention.”
According to Kiah, the businesses on campus were made aware that the retail situation in GSC was being evaluated while the evaluation was taking place.
“We were doing a full analysis of our retail situation, and that was transparent to all of the businesses that do business here on our campus,” Kiah said. “We didn’t know that we were going to be able to leverage that kind of an investment until about two weeks ago that we got final word that (Chartwells was) willing to come to the table with that… $2 million is a business investment, and it needed to be a sustainable business investment, so we identified the business that was necessary in order to sustain that investment.”
Kiah also said that Father Graham’s endorsement of the plan was “nearly simultaneous” with a meeting in which the current Student Government Association (SGA) Executives were briefed about what was going on. The Auxiliary Services team plans to meet with SGA as a whole in the next week or so to give an overview of the details of the deal.
By: Jessica Griggs ~Editor In Chief~