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DUSDAC and Red Mango rebuild relationship following last year’s controversy

When the Quenchers location in Wilson Gym was replaced by Red Mango at the end of last year, some students felt slighted.

When Red Mango met with the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee Thursday, the committee members seemed as focused on the future as the operators. 

Steve Mosh, the store's owner, and Dennis Blocker, the manager, unveiled three new menus of food at the meeting. Mosh and Blocker claimed to have a good deal of personal agency over how to run their store, which is why they’ve been able to introduce so many new products. 

“We’re pretty much left to do what we feel is appropriate for our marketplace,” Mosh said.

Among the new food items at Red Mango are several varieties of their low-calorie skinny bagel sandwiches—which they said are not available at any other Red Mango—and a new smoothie bowl called Choconut Dream. 

They also released an entire menu for a make-your-own juice bar. This change came at the cost of reducing Red Mango’s smoothie variety from its previous location in the Bryan Center. Mosh said it wasn’t sustainable for the store to offer 40-plus different smoothie varieties in Wilson Gym because they would rather give gym-goers more diverse options for food.

The two said they have freedom to act independently and are not reliant on corporate Red Mango to make their decisions.

DUSDAC members made several requests to the vendors during the meeting. Committee member Maddie Manning, a junior, was disappointed that Red Mango did not carry energy drinks. Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services, said that Duke Wellness has requested that no food vendors on campus offer energy drinks because of the health risks they pose. 

Aris Marton, assistant director of retail operations for Duke Dining, cited a post on the Fix My Campus Facebook page to show that one thing students miss about Quenchers is its $5 Blue Devil Deal for a small box of mixed fruit at lunchtime. 

Red Mango responded that their fruit cups, which are sold for $2, are possibly an even better deal than the box at Quenchers. 

“$5 would get you a lot more fruit at Red Mango,” Blocker said.

Committee member Samantha Glover, Trinity '18, expressed concerns about the perceived lack of protein smoothies that Red Mango offers, citing anecdotal accounts from frequent weightlifters. Mosh clarified that the store is happy to make smoothies with protein if a customer asks for it; they simply don’t sell large containers of protein in the store. Blocker said that Red Mango is willing to put anything on their menu into a smoothie.

“We’re always open to constructive criticism and suggestions,” Mosh said. “It’s a beautiful store and we’re very proud of it. We hope everybody has the same feeling, but if they don’t, we hope they’ll let us know.”

DUSDAC is set to launch its new vendor liaison program later this year with the intention of making it easier for students to give honest feedback to food vendors. The liaisons will meet with these vendors in person to provide them with ways to improve. Mosh was also enthusiastic about receiving suggestions directly from students by email.

“I know we gave a lot of criticism, but the store looks great and you have a right to be proud of it," DUSDAC co-chair Aryaman Gupta, a junior, said.

In other business

DUSDAC discussed complaints that have been levied against the Devil’s Krafthouse in the Brodhead Center on Fix My Campus recently, particularly the removal of the Reuben sandwich and tacos from their regular menu. The Krafthouse is set to begin offering Taco Tuesdays and will have a Reuben special on Thursdays in response to those complaints.

In addition, DUSDAC Co-Chair Ethan Kwok, a junior, criticized the new Latin American restaurant Sazòn for its inconsistent portion sizes, which surprised Marton. She plans to improve the situation in the future.

“I will go down there right now,” Marton said. “Inconsistency of portion sizes has driven me insane, so I bought them portioning spoodles.”

DUSDAC also discussed the loss of the Bam Pow Chow food truck on campus, which Marton said did not fulfill its contractual obligation.

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