With construction on the Healey Family Student Center well underway, Georgetown students and administrators have an important opportunity in the coming months.
After Mason Inn and George bar owner Fritz Brogan (COL ’07, LAW ’10) was unable to reach a satisfactory financial agreement with the university to run a pub in the new student center, Brogan backed out of his signed letter of intent, setting the stage for the April 22 announcement that Bon Appétit Management Company will take over the space.
Bon Appétit is a food services company that offers dining service management to corporations, universities and other large-scale, institutional dining venues. It is promising that Bon Appétit counts among its strengths environmentally sound sourcing policies and advocacy for workers’ rights, but Georgetown and Bon Appétit administrators must remember that student input should be a top priority in the management of this new venue.
The pub has long been a part of the plans for the HFSC, and ensuring the success of this venture will benefit more than just the students who will likely make up the majority of its clientele. Most importantly, students patronizing the pub will assist administrators with their goal, motivated by the 2010 Campus Plan agreement, of bringing social life back within the front gates. A pub that can successfully and consistently attract students to its doors will, in turn, ease contention by helping to relocate this loud student nightlife on campus.
To create an attractive establishment, catering to student needs must be an essential objective during the planning process. Administrators have taken care to seek student feedback in developing the pub since it was first proposed, but the transfer of the establishment from Brogan to Bon Appétit reinforces the necessity of student input.
Especially in light of widespread student disapproval of Aramark, the food services provider that operates O’Donovan Hall and other auxiliary food providers on campus, a concerted effort must be made early on to help Bon Appétit — a large-scale food service provider that bears more similarity to Aramark than to Brogan and his Mason Inn — successfully meet the needs of students.
The university has created a rare opportunity to serve the needs of students, administrators and neighbors all at once. A transparent and adaptable planning process will ensure that this opportunity does not go to waste.