In an effort to increase branded food offerings and drive traffic to Norris University Center, Northwestern is adding a Dunkin’ Donuts to the center’s food court — a move that administrators say will not cause competition with Starbucks.
Norris staff confirmed the arrival of Dunkin’ Donuts at an ASG meeting Wednesday, though rumors have circulated since Fall Quarter. The chain will replace Frontera Fresco’s dessert section and is scheduled to open Spring Quarter.
“I think this will be a nice addition to our catering,” said Steve Mangan, district manager for nuCuisine. “Catering customers will take advantage of this. We’re looking forward to get this going and to bring Dunkin’ to campus.”
Because of the University’s contract with Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts will not serve espresso drinks, said Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for student auxiliary services, at the ASG meeting Wednesday. Espresso drinks were not a top seller for Dunkin’ Donuts anyway, she said.
“I think everyone thinks Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks have competition, but people who go to Starbucks go to Starbucks and people who go to Dunkin’ go to Dunkin’,” said Leonard Tham, nuCuisine’s retail and catering operations manager. “There’s brand loyalty. I don’t see it as competition but as more variety.”
NU administrators also chose the franchise for its brand name. The second highest demographic of NU students come from the East Coast, where Dunkin’ Donuts is very popular, Norris executive director Kelly Schaefer said.
Schaefer said the University considered national surveys and student opinions in choosing to open the Dunkin’ Donuts. Students most valued variety, price point and branding, the studies found.
“We feel like Dunkin’ hits those marks,” Schaefer said. “The pricing is a good response to Frontera. People want trusted national brands they feel comfortable with.”
The Dunkin’ Donuts addition is one of many that Norris will see over over the next few years, Schaefer said. The student center plans to add an upgrade every quarter in the five years leading up to its renovation. The addition of Subway during Fall Quarter and the Starbucks makeover Winter Quarter are some of the first, she said.
Administrators said student reaction has been mostly positive. Students applauded at the ASG meeting when the opening was announced. It spurred good reception on social media as well, with Norris’ video on the new cafe gaining many hits.
“It will be nice to have a quick bite to eat,” Weinberg senior Harry Hulsh said. “There’s no place where you can grab breakfast. Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t necessarily the healthiest, but it will be nice to have cheap donuts and coffee.”
Hours of operation are still not certain, but administrators said Dunkin’ Donuts will likely open at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. Tham said he hoped the cafe would increase Norris traffic, especially in the morning hours. Administrators said they will take student feedback into consideration when setting the hours.
Schaefer said Frontera has been supportive in allowing Dunkin’ Donuts to replace its south end.
“It was not serving students, and it was not the right menu mix,” Schaefer said. “They have been good partners with trying to make that successful. The conversation got to ‘Yeah, we can do something different with that.’”
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