Last week, Minnesota State University, Mankato announced that over the summer new restaurants will be transitioning into the MavAve. In the fall semester, Jazzmans, Sandellas, Star Ginger, and Erberts and Gerberts will be replaced with a Starbucks, Firehouse Subs, Peking Plate, and Hissho Sushi. The current Chick-Fil-A will be relocating downstairs with a larger menu.
While most students are excited about the possibility of having new restaurants to choose from, having locally owned restaurants in its place would greatly benefit the campus and its community. With the traffic the Centennial Student Union at MSU attracts, using local restaurants would greatly benefit them.
While there are barriers to having local business options within the CSU, including potential deals with Sodexo, the food provider, it also provides a unique opportunity for growth and community partnership at the University.
One of the benefits of having local restaurants in MavAve would be allowing local businesses to expand their customer base. It would not only allow businesses to have a larger student demographic but let students who might not have originally considered visiting the restaurants get a chance to see what they offer for food and drinks.
This also opens the door for potential experiential learning opportunities. Similar to the Integrated Business Experience and other programs MSU offers, classes could potentially try and run one of these food businesses as a real-world learning opportunity. Giving students the opportunity to run a business can be highly beneficial, especially while at a college campus where the motto is ‘Big ideas, real-worlds thinking’.
One of the bigger assets of having local restaurants in the MavAve is that it would benefit overall student fees in the CSU. A portion of the profits gained from food sales of the CSU food and drink purchases goes directly to the CSU. Having local restaurants in the CSU that students enjoy would drive more traffic to MavAve, increasing the profits.
In turn, the more money students spend in the CSU, the less money students have to pay towards CSU student fees. This option benefits both businesses and students.
Having only chain restaurants with the CSU ensures barriers to access local business. Currently, the closest locally owned restaurants to campus are found at U-Square.
Many college students also don’t have access to a car, relying on their friends to take them places around town to get groceries or to work. Replacing chain restaurants in the CSU allows students who don’t have cars to still support local businesses while also experiencing a little bit of Mankato’s local hot spots.
While it may be difficult, it is worth it for students to pursue local options for restaurants in the student union, as it would bring culture to the campus, as well as foster a strong community.