Au Bon Pain will no longer be available to the hungry, caffeine-addicted students who pass through Huntsman Hall every day.
The Wharton School announced yesterday that it has decided not to renew its contract with ABP for the upcoming semester. By August, it will replace the popular food chain that has two locations inside Huntsman with Heathland Hospitality Group, which will feature fresh, locally grown items.
Wharton will also be adding a third location for Heathland Hospitality Group inside Huntsman. This — which will feature grab-and-go items — will be located to the right of Huntsman’s Locust Walk entrance.
Senior Director for Wharton Operations Maria O’Callaghan-Cassidy said Penn decided to discontinue its relationship with ABP because of student and faculty complaints about the lack of food variety and the long waiting times.
“ABP has been here for 10 years, and it was definitely time for a change,” she said. “If you’ve consumed the same product for 10 years, you want change.”
Heathland Hospitality Group will offer things like coffee, muffins and similar food options, with its menu also featuring “mainstream, regionally produced foods” with an “international twist,” according to a Wharton press release.
Currently, Heathland Hospitality Group operates a cafe in Penn’s Dental School, called “the Daily Grind.”
Monday morning, Wharton emailed its students with an opportunity to name the cafes. Students have until April 20 to fill out an online survey with ideas for a name — the winners of which will be announced May 1.
The process to select a new vendor has been going for about a year and a half, according to O’Callaghan-Cassidy. The selection involved focus groups of students, staff and faculty, among other things.
“We wanted it to be as open and transparent as possible,” said Executive Director of Facilities for Wharton’s Graduate Association Vic Tandon, a second-year MBA student. “We participated not only in the focus groups, but also put together a survey for the first and second-year class.”
Six different companies, including ABP, competed for the locations. Ultimately, three were chosen as finalists around December 2011. ABP was not one of these vendors.
Some students have expressed disappointment over ABP’s departure.
College and Wharton freshman Manasvi Koul said she thinks “it’s a bad decision. I don’t see anything wrong with ABP. I feel like it’s an all-around good option.”
Others, though, do not seem overly disappointed with the arrival of Heathland Hospitality Group.
“I would like to see a new place take that space because I don’t think ABP offers the best food,” College junior Julia Eckstein said. “I think there’s another kind of retail food that would do better. They run out of stuff a lot and it’s just not my favorite.”
Some, like Wharton senior Allie Fumo, will not personally miss it, but see why others may.
“I eat here probably every day because most of my classes are here,” she said. “I think it’ll definitely be missed, but if it’s done properly, it won’t be missed as much. I think it’ll be missed by a lot of students because of the name.”
“I think we all crave variety and so hopefully that will be the outcome of this process,” Tandon added.
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