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March 16, 2011 - 7:31pm

Questions on Campus: How does the University decide which food vendors will be on campus?


Despite several fast food options in University Unions, students may not be able to order some of their favorite eats, like an Arby’s roast beef sandwich or this season’s Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s, without taking a drive off campus.

Though the University doesn’t have any provisions that prohibit competing establishments from setting up shop on campus, vendors typically opt out of moving into the same facilities as their major competitors, according to University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham.

However, there have been exceptions. McDonald’s occupied the space now filled by Panda Express in Pierpont Commons while Wendy’s was concurrently operating in the Michigan Union. And currently, Subway and Quiznos are both contracted with the University in the Union and Pierpont Commons, respectively, despite being competing vendors, according to Cunningham.

The University’s process of determining which restaurants will come to campus is a lengthy one, Cunningham wrote in an e-mail interview.

Whenever a contract with a food vendor ends, existing vendors may submit a proposal to expand their locations on campus. Outside vendors are also encouraged to compete for the space, Cunningham wrote.

A committee of students and staff review the potential vendors’ proposals and judge them based on their product quality, customer service and operator experience, among other things, according to Cunningham. The evaluation process often includes trips to off campus locations to judge the restaurants’ quality, she wrote.