At its Monday meeting, the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee received an update from Red Mango about its sales and the problems it faces. 

Steve Mosh, owner of Red Mango, talked with DUSDAC about better ways to advertise to the student population and floated the idea of offering delivery. When his store opened back up for the school year in September, which coincided with the opening of West Union, he said he saw a sharp decrease in sales.

“We took a huge hit, big time—along with everyone else in the Bryan Center,” he said. “I mean, we’re not alone, we talk to the others. You kind of have to gather together and figure out how you are going to weather the storm.”

Mosh noted, however, that business began to increase again as the semester went on, and that the upward trend has continued into the Spring semester.

“Clearly the foot traffic has changed, and I don’t know if it will ever be the same,” he said.

He explained that the venue’s peak hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.—which is when they see about 70 percent of their daily business. The remaining 30 percent of their business stems from the end of that peak to their closing at 9 p.m.

Mosh asked the committee members for their thoughts on Red Mango offering delivery options. But the fact that Merchants-on-Points cannot deliver before 8 p.m. would make this difficult, committee members noted.

He added that he would have to charge more for the products being delivered and noted that it is not an idea he would necessarily implement, but rather a tentative one he wants student feedback on.

Mosh explained that his store has the ability to do things that most other Red Mango stores do not. He and general manager Dennis Blocker try to introduce new products—some of which are their own creations—relatively often in an effort to keep the menu from being “stale.”

The venue’s menu contains about two-and-a-half times as many smoothie options as a normal Red Mango, which Mosh said makes them a “non-traditional store."

“I wouldn’t say that we get to do whatever we want, but it’s pretty close,” he said.

Red Mango has been at Duke for about four years, but Mosh told DUSDAC that he is seeking a better way to communicate to the student body. He questioned if other vendors had individual social media accounts to advertise and asked the committee for advice on the best way to reach students.

“Every vendor from the last month has asked us that,” junior Julia Medine said.

In other business:

Barbara Stokes, director of residential dining services, told members that a cook-to-order pasta line introduced at Marketplace last week was “here to stay.”

First-year Sarah Perez noted that heavy interest in the new feature was clear from the “huge lines” she had seen there since its debut.

Stokes also informed the committee that Marketplace will be holding a Mardi Gras celebration from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday.