A recent survey suggests that for some Wharton students, old habits die hard.
The Wharton Journal, an MBA student-run publication, conducted a two-week online survey in October to find out students’ thoughts about the recently opened Bridge Café, which replaced Au Bon Pain in Huntsman Hall at the start of the semester.
Out of the 141 MBA students who answered a question on the survey asking which establishment they preferred, nearly 70 percent indicated that their preference was to “bring back Au Bon Pain” as opposed to the new Bridge Café and MBA Café.
Like the Bridge Café, the MBA Café, located on the second floor of Huntsman, is owned by Heathland Hospitality Group.
The results of the survey fall in line with growing displeasure among some Penn students with the offerings at ABP’s replacement.
“Their current selection is truly terrible,” first-year MBA student Jyotika Prasad said. “When I am looking for a snack in between classes, I don’t want to eat goat cheese and a pear.”
General Manager of the Bridge Café Jared Johnson said his staff is taking student feedback from the survey into consideration as it continues to establish itself on campus.
“We are new and constantly evolving,” he said. “We are trying to do something that’s relatively unprecedented on campus. It is going to take some time for people to understand what we do.”
Johnson believes that the survey results should be taken with a grain of salt, since they were gathered very soon after the café opened.
“Having only been open for about eight weeks, I don’t think people have had a chance to understand our services,” Johnson said.
College senior Casey Becker, though, said she was “extremely upset” when ABP was replaced, since the Bridge Café does not offer enough variety in its bagel selection.
Glen Thomas, an administrative coordinator at Penn’s Population Studies Center, believes the survey results were “accurate,” adding that the relative obscurity of the Bridge Café compared to ABP may be contributing to its unpopularity.
“I trusted ABP’s brand,” Thomas said. “I think their branding signaled quality.”
However, Jarrett Stein, an employee at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, strongly disagreed.
“I always favor freshly cooked food and community-based organizations to an industrial food complex” like ABP, Stein said.
Parts of the feedback provided in the comments section of the survey indicated that some are frustrated with the new café’s long lines and over-priced products. Others commented on the “lingering smell of eggs” in the café.
College senior Dave Beizer, though, was surprised by these findings.
“I thought everyone disliked ABP,” Beizer said. “I think [the Bridge Café’s] food is prepared more freshly, and their breakfast sandwich is great.”
Johnson explained that, apart from the Wharton Journal’s survey results, Heathland is making its own push to continue gathering input from students. While Heathland has not yet conducted a survey of its own, Johnson said he and his colleagues have frequently spoken to students in the café and in the hallways.
“I think we are getting terrific feedback,” he said. “There have been some suggestions made, and I think we have worked on them.”Comments powered by Disqus
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