Serious delays in construction have pushed the reopening of Hoya Court eateries back two months, with completion of the renovations now projected for late October.
The Leavey Center dining area will include new vendors Elevation Burger and Salad Creations in addition to a larger Subway, replacing KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.
The university had two years remaining on its contract with the former food services provider in Hoya Court but decided to negotiate an alternative contract with Aramark, which already operates O’Donovan Hall, Starbucks, Cosi, Grab ‘n’ Go, the dining at Wolfington Hall and Dr. Mug in the Pre-clinical Science Building. The deal with Aramark allows for greater flexibility in licensing options, as Aramark has partnerships with many restaurant groups, as opposed to the former, local provider, which had partnerships with just three businesses.
“The former vendor left a little later than we had anticipated, so the project got out to a month late start because of that,” Associate Vice President and Chief Business Officer Debbie Morey said. “Going into any aggressive project, there are issues that come out.”
The decision to expand a hood over Elevation Burger to increase its prominence hampered progress, as did unanticipated plumbing and infrastructure issues. The garage, which lies underneath the site, required core drilling and scaffolding.
The university also encountered difficulties in securing licenses for “Licensing in the college market is a very big deal. … We went to places like Five Guys, Sweetgreen and Chipotle to gauge interest,” Debbie Morey said. “We knew we wanted to keep Subway … so based on feedback, we presented a couple of options, what we could get to with the Food Services Committee. We really didn’t have that many other options.”
Five Guys rejected the offer, citing desire for a storefront as well as concerns that students are not on campus year round. Chipotle said that it would not move onto college campuses at this time.
Elevation Burger appealed to Auxiliary Services due to its sustainability efforts and provision of vegan and vegetarian options. Salad Creations provided a healthy option, which the administration thought would attract customers, particularly those from the medical campus. Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Joelle Wiese cited an increase in business at the Epicurean salad bar and Cosi while Hoya Court has been closed.
Business Services will monitor the success of the new dining options.
“We wanted flexibility to switch out these venues instead of waiting 10 years, and Aramark gives us the ability to do that,” Debbie Morey said. “Some people won’t work directly with us, and some people won’t work directly with Aramark. … They’re able to leverage brands and do things we could not do ourselves.”
In addition to the three Hoya Court vendors, Roasted, a rotisserie currently operating temporarily in Hoya Court, may soon have a permanent location on the north side of campus.
“Roasted has been a very good concept. … We’re working to see if we can keep that,” Wiese said, citing the possibility of moving Roasted to the hallway that houses Starbucks and Cosi.
Currently, the Einstein Bros. Bagels in the Car Barn is beta-testing a meal-equivalency program, where students with a meal plan can use a swipe for a meal at that location. The program could potentially be expanded to Elevation Burger and Salad Creations, but Wiese said that would not happen this year.
Chair of the Georgetown University Student Association Subcommittee on Food Service Sam Greco (SFS ’15) serves on a working group that is charged with enlivening Hoya Court. The area is supposed to be used as a student activity space, especially while the Healey Family Student Center is under construction.
“We really want to make a more welcoming, brighter place where people want to come and eat,” he said.
To that end, the seating area will be redesigned and the walls will feature decorations. Due to dust concerns, the overhaul of the seating area will coincide with the reopening of the food court.
Late-night hours for the restaurants are being considered, especially in light of Epicurean’s new 24-hour policy. Elevation Burger is currently slated to be open until 11 p.m., with a possibility of extension depending on student feedback. The move ties into the university’s attempt to contain student nightlife on campus.
The food court should reopen Oct. 25 with a soft opening, featuring little advertisement, which will allow services to make tweaks before the grand opening a week later.