Students can expect a new restaurant on campus as a part of the Sam Carver Gymnasium renovation proposed in this year’s budget.
Western’s Dining Services partnered with Aramark to release a survey to students and staff about which restaurants they would prefer.
Stephen Wadsworth, resident district manager for Aramark, said in an email that the construction of the restaurant would be incorporated into the final renovation design of the gym and both would be completed at the same time.
At this time, no budget has been set for the project, Wadsworth said. Aramark hopes to have a decision made by early fall for what restaurant will be picked.
Aramark provides the food served on campus in the dining halls, markets, and cafes. Aramark also employs students who work in those positions.
The online survey will be open until Friday, April 10, Wadsworth said, but the deadline could be extended depending on the number of responses. As of Thursday, April 9, 1,862 students and faculty responded to the survey, he said.
Student and staff input is critical when making the final decision, Wadsworth said. The online survey is the first step in the process to establish what restaurant would be the most popular, he said.
The next step is to put the plan before a number of Aramark’s national marketing and channel growth teams, Wadsworth said. From there, a final survey of the location will take place before the project is officially validated.
Dining Services are also currently conducting other surveys around campus in addition to the online survey, and will do so until Friday, April 10, Wadsworth said.
The survey asked students to pick from a list of restaurants that covered a wide range of dining types, like a burger joint or Mexican food. Each dining style had a list of larger chain restaurants to pick from, but there was a space to type in an answer, Wadsworth said.
Students for Sustainable Food, a Western club, have an interest in providing students with “real food.” The co-president, Melinda Vickers, said real food is food that nourishes the producer, the consumer, community and the environment.
“If there is a restaurant and it brings more sustainable, healthy good food to campus, we are in support of it,” Vickers said.
Vickers said the club would prefer to see more local restaurants like the Bellingham Co-Op.
Austin Snow, a junior, was interested in seeing a new restaurant coming to campus. He said Carver Gym would be a convenient location because it is the midway point between the dining hall and Arntzen. “I would like to see something not corporate, more local, like an Avenue Bread type of place,” Snow said.
Sophomore Sarah Westby said Western doesn’t really need another place to eat and there are already a lot of places on campus.
“We have a lot of places to eat already so it just kind of seems like a waste of resources,” Westby said.
Another student, Heather Haasl, agreed with Westby and said Western does not necessarily need another place to eat. Maybe one restaurant could be taken away to make room for a new one, she said.
Haasl said if a new restaurant was brought in, it should be something healthy.
"The last thing the campus needs is another fast food place,” she said.
Carver Gym was built in 1936 and since that time, only one major addition has been made, according to the 2015-25 Capital Plan. Following that, there have been a few minor additions, with the last one completed in 1994.