Both Chick-Fil-A and Subway will be leaving campus at the end of this academic year, said Rick Johnson, associate vice president of housing and dining.
With West Union Building renovations fast approaching, neither popular chain restaurants will be part of the group of facilities moving to the events pavilion. The building—just northwest of Kilgo dormitory and behind the Bryan Center—will temporarily house dining options as West Union undergoes renovations, beginning summer 2013. Johnson noted that fast food chains will not be included in the events pavilion or in the finished West Union Building.
“[Chick-Fil-A] was told last year that the West Union was closing summer 2013 and they would not be in the new West Union—the same for Subway,” he said in an email Monday. “The vision for the new West Union is modeled on Eataly in New York City, so there will be no fast food brands in the new West Union.”
Johnson added that the events pavilion will be too small to accommodate all of the eateries that currently occupy the West Union Building. The cost of building and then removing a fast food chain after two years was also too high to justify a place for either vendor.
Both Subway and Chick-Fil-A hold contracts with Bon Appétit Management Company, Johnson noted.
Bon Appétit Resident District Manager Nathan Peterson could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
However, both management and floor staff at Chick-Fil-A have been left in the dark about the reason for the imminent closure of the restaurant.
“People asked me why we’re closing,” said Princess, a Chick-Fil-A employee. “I have no idea why.”
Operations Manager Beverly Fullard added that she has been aware that the contract would expire for a while, but was not privy to the reason it is not being renewed.
Duke Dining officials made the decision to not include the two restaurants last year, before the July controversy surrounding Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments in opposition to same-sex marriage, Johnson said. Although he noted that he has received three emails from students and Duke community members that Duke should remove the restaurant from campus due to Cathy’s stance.
“I told them it’s really a moot point,” he said. “Their contract is up at the end of this year. It seemed to satisfy them.”
Student reactions to the closing of these two restaurants are mixed.
“I love Chick-Fil-A,” said sophomore Nadia Viscuso. “It is one of my favorite places to eat on campus. First Pauly Dogs, then Chick-Fil-A... I’m upset.”
The removal of both fast food chains may raise some socioeconomic concerns because they were two of the more inexpensive places to get a meal on campus, said sophomore James Silberstein.
“As an advocate for the LGBTQ community, I am thrilled that a company like Chick-Fil-A will not be allowed to operate on campus,” said junior Jacob Tobia, co-president of Blue Devils United. “And as a vegetarian, I’m happy to see them go because I couldn’t eat anything at Chick-Fil-A anyways. I’m ultimately disappointed with the administration because, through saying that the decision had nothing to do with Chick-Fil-A’s discriminatory practices, they squandered an opportunity to take an important stand for equality.”
Yeshwanth Kandimalla contributed reporting.