With the addition of Au Bon Pain to the Bryan Center, Alpine Bagels is striving to maintain its status as the campus’ primary bagel provider.
Employees of both Au Bon Pain and Alpine Bagels say that each restaurant has a solid customer base and strong sales this year. But students said they are sensing that their peers prefer Au Bon Pain to Alpine because it is new and offers more choices and better hours.
“I’ve only been to Alpine Bagels once since Au Bon Pain opened, and there was no one there,” senior Lily Cha said.
Despite the arrival of Au Bon Pain, Alpine Bagels employee Enrique Ross believes there is still steady business that stems from Alpine’s proximity to dormitories and its frequent customers, who come in at similar times each week and order the same items off the menu. Although Ross said he thinks the regulars will never change, the restaurant has noticed a slight decline in sales since the opening of Au Bon Pain.
“Students like to try new things,” said Ross, who has been an employee at Alpine Bagels for one year.
When asked for numbers regarding Alpine Bagels’ sales for this year compared to last, supervisor Marquis McMillan said no one was available who would be willing to comment.
Rick Johnson, assistant vice president of student affairs for housing, dining and residence life, could not be reached for comment in time for publication. McMillan said a typical day at the eatery this year is not that different from years past.
“[Students] usually come right before class or after class,” McMillan said. “I haven’t noticed any significant changes other than maybe a little fewer people.”
David Frankel, one of Au Bon Pain’s assistant managers, noted that sales have exceeded expectations—particularly at breakfast.
“We didn’t expect the sheer volume of people,” Frankel said. “We did expect how busy it is during lunch, but we did not expect how busy it is during breakfast. People come in just for breakfast sandwiches.”
He also said that Au Bon Pain has particular amenities that attract students.
“We are open late, 7:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week,” Frankel said. “We have that opportunity for students to come in and study. We have soft seating and a cool outdoor patio.”
Some students note that, although their dining experiences at Alpine Bagels have been positive, Au Bon Pain tends to be more popular because of its location and nutritious options.
“I usually go to Au Bon Pain, if only because of convenience,” sophomore Stephanie Laughton said. “The Bryan Center is closer than West Union, so it’s an easier walk, and Au Bon Pain is normally a healthier choice than other BC plaza options.”
Sophomore Sarah Collins said that although she enjoys their choices, she tries to avoid Au Bon Pain at peak times due to the crowd.
“Au Bon Pain is fresh to order and has a good bakery, but the lines get a little ridiculous—during lunch time, it’s terrible” Collins said. “Alpine Bagels has good bagels, and I like the people that work there. I don’t use it too much, but this year it’s next to one of my classes so I go Wednesdays and Fridays.”
But Laughton said she thinks the crowds currently surrounding Au Bon Pain will die down after its newness wears off. She added that some people will return to Alpine.
“Au Bon Pain has a big hype because it’s new,” Laughton said. “It will eventually settle down because there are only so many options at either place. People will go to what they want or what’s closest to them.”