South Campus food court could reopen and be run by students

Jackson French

WKU’s chapter of international student business organization Enactus, previously known as Students in Free Enterprise, is currently discussing the possibility of reopening the South Campus food court.

Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president of Auxiliary Services, said the South Campus food court was closed last fall, citing a lack of student support as one of the main reasons it was shut down.

“We gave it a three-year try and it lost $60,000 or more every year,” he said.

Meszaros said the bookstore on South Campus has been providing students with “grab and go” food items since the food court closed, and in February made more than $2,000 in food sales.

“The food court had more sales, but it costs a lot more to run a whole food court,” he said.

WKU’s Enactus CFO Zachary Mattingly said Meszaros approached the student organization with an idea that would allow Enactus to reopen the food court.

Meszaros said if Enactus does reopen the food court, they could use it as an exercise to teach students how to run a business.

“Right now, we’re in the very, very initial stages of even researching the possibilities,” he said.

Mattingly said Enactus has to take numerous considerations into account, including whether or not they have enough money and resources to fund the project, whether or not they will need certifications to provide certain foods and what hours the food court will be open, before making a decision.

“There’s a whole lot of research to be done before we can even really say maybe,” Mattingly said. “We’re not even to that point yet.”

Mattingly said the current proposal is for Enactus to run the business side of the operation, while other groups handle food service and marketing.

He said if the deal goes through, Enactus’ partnership with WKU would ease the cost of reopening the food court.

“We wouldn’t pay rent and we wouldn’t pay utilities,” Mattingly said. “All that stuff would be paid for by Western.”

He also said Enactus could reduce the business venture’s startup costs by using the equipment already in the food court.

“The equipment is there,” Mattingly said. “Western has already paid for it. What they’re trying to do is saying, we’ve got all the stuff and all the things you’re going to need, we just need someone to run it.”

“We wouldn’t have that many startup expenses,” Mattingly said. “All we’re having to pay is labor and food costs.”

While no decision has yet been made, Mattingly said he thinks Enactus could make the South Campus food court profitable if they decide to reopen it.

Mattingly said Meszaros and Aramark have been very supportive of Enactus’ involvement in this potential project.

Meszaros said if WKU and its chapter of Enactus work together, the food court could reopen and be less expensive to operate.

“It wouldn’t cost us as much and it wouldn’t cost them as much,” Meszaros said. “We’d like to find a solution we can both win with.”