Au Bon Pain contract up for review
Penn community will have input in choosing retailer
April 26, 2011, 2:24 am·
The Au Bon Pain cafe may leave Huntsman Hall in 2012.
ABP’s contract will expire in August 2012 and University is exploring other options to fill the retail space.
ABP — which offers food options including soups, sandwiches and baked goods — has occupied its current location in Huntsman Hall since the building opened in 2002.
As always when a contract expires, the University will issue a request for proposals from retailers — including ABP — that wish to take the spot. The candidates will be able “to present their ideas and concepts for a food service operation,” executive director of Business Services Douglas Berger wrote in an email.
“These concepts will be presented to students, faculty and staff, and their responses will be used to help determine which vendor is selected,” he added.
“We would very much like to stay at Penn,” ABP President and CEO Sue Morelli said, adding that the retail chain has developed new concepts which it hopes to present to the University.
A new menu will consist of “delicious food,” including a create-your-own salad bar, toasted sandwiches and additional beverages such as coconut water, Morelli said.
If ABP’s contract is renewed, the cafe will develop “engaging service for time-pressed students and professors,” as well as a new design with brighter colors and varied seating, she added.
Retailers will be able to submit proposals starting this summer or fall, Berger wrote. In the meantime, the University has started to gather information from the Penn community to learn what type of offerings they would like to see in the space.
Business Services has held two focus groups so far with students, faculty and staff, Berger wrote. “Feedback is an important part of the process as we consider the future of the space,” he wrote.
Wharton junior Triston Francis attended a focus group that consisted of graduate and undergraduate students.
In the focus group, most students voiced a desire for healthier food options, Francis said.
“ABP is good for a quick meal,” he said. However, Francis, who spends a lot of time in Huntsman Hall, would like a retailer that offers more satiating dinner options.
“I think most students are satisfied with ABP,” Wharton sophomore João Mokdissi said, adding that he is personally disappointed by ABP’s coffee.
Mokdissi hopes the decision will involve many students, not just a select few. “We’re the consumers,” he said.