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Some campus dining services dish up more than others

With more than 20 dining facilities on campus, the choices that Ohio State students have for satisfying an empty stomach are vast.

In general, OSU breaks its food service operations down into five categories: fast casual, quick service, traditional or all-you-care-to-eat, café/grab-and-go and table service.

But as diverse as campus dining is, there is one facility that has done consistently better than others recently in terms of popularity and the amount of money generated.

North Commons, which includes North Traditions, Fresh Express and a convenience store, continues to be ranked first among all campus-area dining options, said Zia Ahmed, senior director of Dining Services.

“From a revenue and transaction standpoint, we are in line saying that North (Commons) is the highest volume operation,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed attributed this to the high concentration of students in the North Campus area, as well as the variety of food and drinks offered in North Commons.

The Ohio Union, which includes the Union Market, Sloopy’s and Woody’s, is a “close second,” and Kennedy Commons is also “doing very well since its renovation,” Ahmed said.

Although these three facilities are considered the highest volume operations, Ahmed stressed that there is really no top-to-bottom list of how well each operation performs.

“We look at operations very differently sometimes,” Ahmed said. “We may match them up with like-to-like operations. For example, Espress-OH would be a much better match with Berry Café to see how their popularity is comparing.”

University Residences and Dining Services also compares campus dining facilities based on zone, North versus South Campus, he said.

Although revenue plays a large part in determining the most popular campus restaurant, Dave Isaacs, communications and media relations manager at the Office of Student Life, said it is not the most important thing.

“Because this isn’t a profit center, revenue is not the absolute core of it,” Isaacs said. “Usage rates are more illustrative of where people are going.”

Allie McKnight, a second-year in international studies, said the Courtside Café in the RPAC is her favorite campus dining facility.

“(Their food) seems well-prepared and the quality is a lot better than some of the other food on campus,” McKnight said.

Dan Kroger, a second-year in mechanical engineering, said Mirror Lake Creamery and Grill is his favorite place to eat on campus.

“The unique selection of food and it being next to the lake makes a nice lunch experience,” Kroger said.

Although Mirror Lake is his favorite, he usually eats at Marketplace for dinner, he said.

“The larger meals are nice for dinner,” he said. “They have a wide range of pizzas, pastas and other things.”


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