Chartwells cafeterias closing across KPU campuses
Cafeterias operated by Chartwells will close on May 1 as they look for new ideas for the space
Cafeterias operated by food service provider Chartwells will close across Kwantlen Polytechnic University campuses beginning May 1 due to low profits.
In an email the institution sent to students on April 18, the campus cafeterias have not returned to pre-pandemic levels and this has impacted their operational viability.
David Stewart, executive director of facilities services, says the cafeterias were seeing roughly 40 per cent of the revenue they used to see pre-pandemic.
“It’s unfortunate, but the actual cafeteria style menus, and the food that you would serve through a cafeteria, the volumes just aren’t there to support it, and that’s why the cafeterias were targeted to close,” Stewart says.
The cafeteria at the KPU Tech campus and the Tim Hortons locations at the Surrey and Richmond campuses will remain open. The seating areas near the cafeterias at the Surrey, Richmond, and Langley campuses along with the microwaves will still be open and available for those wanting to bring their own food.
Stewart says the KPU Tech campus cafeteria is quite busy as many classes are back in-person, which is why they decided to keep it open. For the Langley campus, the bookstore will have more food and drink options such as hot beverages, snacks, and ready to eat items to ensure students and employees have options, according to the email statement.
Stewart says coffee and tea, cold beverages, and prepackaged sandwiches will be some of the items offered at the Langley bookstore, while possibly adding prepackaged sushi, frozen food meals, and fresh fruits depending on the demand. The Langley bookstore hours will be extended on Fridays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm to provide food and drink options every weekday, matching its Monday to Thursday hours.
At the Surrey campus cafeteria, they launched a Subway Grab & Go station in November to provide students with a healthy and quick food option. Stewart says they are working with Chartwells to try and move the station to the Langley or Cloverdale campus.
He says Chartwells tried to do different things to increase sales in their cafeterias like creating different menu options, shortening the hours of operation, and simplifying menu items.
“The largest reason is that people just aren’t on campus, the number of people are down. So if you don’t have the demand, it doesn’t matter,” Stewart says.
“I think another issue just globally, especially within Canada, is the amount of inflation … that’s putting cost pressures on everybody,” he says. “For our own employees, plus our students, everybody’s feeling that pinch in this world.”
Business administration student Simran Kaur says she often sits at the Birch cafeteria as she finds it’s a good place to study, and is less distracting than the Tim Hortons seating area in the Cedar building.
“It is like our comfort zone to sit and study [here] and eat,” she says. “Whenever I sit here, I always eat the fries and a burger.”
When the cafeteria closes, she says she will try to avoid getting food on campus and opt to get food from Kwantlen Pizza or elsewhere as she works at Tim Hortons. She hopes to see another cafeteria open up on campus that will offer similar items and provide more food options for students.
“They should open another similar cafe over here because it will be difficult for students,” she says.
In an email statement sent to The Runner, Chartwells wrote that they are committed to working with KPU serving the university community.
“We are committed to working with KPU as we continue our partnership, serving the KPU community. We continue to evaluate service level and offerings into the coming school year.”
The university is looking for input from the KPU community on what they can do with the cafeteria spaces as they look to start their re-evaluation process. People who have feedback can send their thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.