Dining moves Food Factory launch to Fall

Plans to open The Food Factory on campus have been placed on hiatus, part of measures to decrease spending in light of recent financial losses.

Director of Dining Services Jim Wulforst said the announcement of a 19 percent drop in the value of Duke's endowment since July caused him to stall major dining projects like the Cary-based Food Factory, which was slated for a Spring opening.

"Nobody's telling me not to spend, but it would not be in my best interest not to manage the department fiscally, especially when the University has made the statement publicly that there are concerns about the financial situation," he said.

Wulforst said decisions on other Dining Services projects-including a West Union Building renovation, with which officials hope to create a "dining pavilion"-will likely be made within the next few weeks. He noted that the endowment loss has raised a "big caution flag" among administrators about spending at this time.

Construction of the The Food Factory is now scheduled to take place over the summer, with an opening scheduled for the Fall. The restaurant will be replacing an eatery either in McLendon Tower or in the Bryan Center, Wulforst said, adding that he did not want to disclose any details in order to preserve current business for the eatery that would be let go.

Managers of The Food Factory were equally concerned about opening in a new location while operating under a tight financial belt, Wulforst noted. And with plans to add amenities like a hot bar, the vendor preferred to build after enough funding could be secured, so that the eatery could have a proper debut.

"Between me not being able to get the funding and the short timeline, I didn't want to do anything that wasn't going to come off right," he said. "Right before Christmas we made a collective decision to hold off until the end of Spring semester."

Junior Jason Taylor, co-chair of the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee, said that despite the delay and the overall spending cut expected for Dining Services, DUSDAC members still hope to move forward with some projects this semester, including an evaluation of off-campus vendors.

Dining Services vetted the addition of The Food Factory through Duke Student Government in December, as part of a new mandate for dining proposals to be approved by the Senate. Sophomore Mike Lefevre, DSG vice president for athletics and campus services, noted the restaurant's own limited finances, unlike Panda Express, which he said was brought in primarily because it was able to supply its own funds.

"For a small place like The Food Factory it's difficult for them to be able to provide the capital funding to create something on their own," he said. "What I hope is that we won't be settling for restaurants that provide cash up-front."

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