As of Sept. 26, the ASUCD Coffee House (CoHo) began accepting Aggie Cash. The CoHo became the latest of UC Davis campus dining service locations to accept this form of payment, making Aggie Cash accepted at every dining service location on campus.
In addition to the CoHo, satellite locations The CoHo To Go and The CoHo South Cafe have also begun accepting Aggie Cash. According to Brenan Connolly, the general manager of Resident Dining, students now have more variety to choose from for their meals.
“From a standpoint of partnering with the Coffee House and trying to make sure we’re looking at all the different entities of food service means that our community spends their money with as much flexibility as possible. That’s definitely a benefit to the whole campus,” Connolly said.
Along with providing variety and flexibility to campus meal plans, Connolly also hopes that the Aggie Cash will grow beyond just a first-year market. Director of Student Development Branden Pettit is pleased at the potential for freshmen involvement at the Memorial Union.
“I am glad that everything fell into place this year so that residence hall students can engage the MU community even more than before,” Pettit said in an email interview.
According to Connolly, the partnership has been in discussion for at least six years. He claims that there are various reasons why the partnership didn’t work out until now. However, Connolly also claims that Darin Schluep, the most recent CoHo food service director, saw the deal as a viable option and was one of the major reasons for why the partnership happened.
“I’m relatively new to my position; I’ve been here about a year. So I thought it’d be a great opportunity to recheck it out and see what was available out there and if we could partner with them. Really for us, the reason why we want to do it is it’s a service to the students. So it was in our best interest to make it happen,” Schluep said.
According to Chris Rzenut, Aggie Cash program controller, technical issues also played a part in the delay of Aggie Cash partnering with the CoHo. He claims with the advancement of technology over the years, cost for it has been brought down enough to possibly sway the other party’s decision.
“As technology grows it gets easier, and I think the price came down enough that it made sense. Maybe five years ago, the technology would’ve been more expensive and wouldn’t have been worth their while to do it,” Rzenut said.
According to Schluep, the decision allows the CoHo to tap into the first-year market, a much smaller market than other classes. Having already seen an increase in the first week of business, Schluep expects both the number of everyday students that come into the CoHo and sales numbers to increase further over time.
“Up until now, we had some freshmen that come over, but not as much as they’re probably going to come over now just because they can use their Aggie Cash here. We’re tapping into a freshman group of 5,000 or so that are now able to utilize their Aggie Cash here,” Schluep said.
Although a 10 percent discount is given to those who use Aggie Cash at a majority of participating locations, the CoHo will not provide a discount for using Aggie Cash at this time. Schluep claims the reasoning behind this decision is that prices at the CoHo are already competitive. However, he also claims that the door for an Aggie Cash discount remains open if the program goes well for the Fall Quarter trial period.
“If down the road, we see that there’s a benefit to offering a discount, we do have the door open to do that if we so choose. Our prices are discounted already. That’s how we look at it. We have some great prices; we hold up well against anybody else,” Schluep said.
As of now, Aggie Cash is accepted at every location in the CoHo except the two outside registers at the Marketplace. According to Schluep, if one wants to use Aggie Cash at the Marketplace, they have to go to the middle three registers. There are also signs to direct people to which registers accept Aggie Cash. Schluep claims that it was a business decision to save money on installation costs as these registers are only open a couple of hours a day during the CoHo’s peak period.
A business’ startup cost for Aggie Cash includes running wires, purchasing readers, a monthly charge for the readers in case one fails and a monthly charge that goes to the service by Sodexo.
According to Kyle Privette, Dining Services marketing manager, UC Davis dining services look for unique businesses to partner with in terms of Aggie Cash. Privette claims what’s unique about the CoHo is that it’s on campus.
“We’re always looking for a variety of vendors that offer something unique. We don’t want 25 pizza places,” Privette said.
Regina Marion, a third-year nutrition science major, is a fan of the partnership because of the increased options.
“I think it’s great for students. I know a lot of places you would think would accept Aggie Cash, but don’t. It gives students more variety,” Marion said.
JASON PHAM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.