SUNY Fredonia may close dining center

Wooden booths and open seats, the calm atmosphere of Erie Dining Center is what makes it the place to eat for many Fredonia students. The Marketplace at Erie, located in the center of the Kirkland Quad, serves students with a variety of food selections.

At February’s Student Association’s General Assembly meeting, students were informed of a plan to close Erie Dining Center, proposed by Faculty Student Association representatives.

Some students, however, are concerned with this proposal.

“Being a vegetarian, I really enjoy eating at Erie because they give me better options than anywhere else on campus,” said freshman music education major Emma Glaess. “I hope that with whatever decision is made they still have good meat alternatives available every day.”

The FSA-run dining hall records an average of 534 sales per day while the more preferred dining halls such as Cranston or the Williams Center note around 1,500. “Erie now has the lowest average daily transaction volume with the exception of Trendz by a large margin,” said FSA associate executive and controller Matthew Snyder.

The decrease in meal sales has led the FSA to believe the Marketplace at Erie is no longer a profitable dining facility. The assumption is that the current generation is one that prefers grab-and-go convenience, which is not available at Erie.

FSA stated that the decrease in overall enrollment of 5.3 percent from last year is another factor in the proposal to close Erie Dining Center.

Meal plan revenue is $900,000 below the predicted budget of 2012-13.

Tim Hortons, the most recent addition to campus dining, exceeded expectations in terms of food sales, as it was originally considered a quick stop for coffee and other beverages.

“Tim Hortons has become one of the busiest operations on campus and (has) essentially become a dining hall,” Snyder said. “The volume of transaction activity has come at the expense of Erie Dining Center.”

Snyder emphasized that enrollment being down has resulted in less sales in dining halls.

“Daily, there are a tremendous amount of empty seats in Erie and Centre Pointe even during the rush periods.” Snyder said. “FSA has built up operations of the past decade and now with lower enrollment we have much excess capacity.”

With less sales, profits for the FSA have decreased greatly. “FSA will incur a very large financial loss this year as a result of these many factors closing Erie is the best solution to the profitability problem,” said Snyder.

If FSA chooses to go through with the closing next fall, the fate of Erie Dining Center is uncertain. “It would cost several million dollars to renovate Erie and make it more attractive people do not want to walk over to Erie when they have other choices that are more convenient,” Snyder said.

If Erie ends up closing, the FSA plans to renovate Centre Pointe.

“Trendz will become a Mexican grill similar to Moe’s or Chipotle,” Snyder said.

The salad, stir-fry and ice cream bar will be moved to Centre Pointe, along with an “Asian quick serve station.”

“The proposal has been made to the Budget Committee of the FSA Board. The budget will be presented to and voted on by the full Board in March,” Snyder said. “A decision will not be final or official until that occurs.”

Students will be updated regularly on the fate of the Marketplace at Erie.

Editor’s note: This article was first published in The Leader at SUNY Fredonia and is reprinted with permission. Comments may be sent to editorial@observertoday.com