Prices higher at on-campus franchises

Students pay more for items at on-campus restaurants including Chick-fil-A and Subway due to the contracts negotiated by Alabama dining services.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — If a student buys a Chick-fil-A sandwich combo at the Ferguson Center for lunch every school day for a semester, they will spend around $140 more than if they had purchased the same meal at an off-campus location.

The price difference is a result of the franchise agreement between Bama Dining and the restaurant. Most restaurants in the Ferguson Center kept prices close to off-campus prices, but Chick-fil-A prices on campus are significantly higher. A Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich combo at the Ferguson Center, for example, comes with a 32 percent markup compared to off-campus prices.

Kristina Hopton-Jones, director of UA Dining Services, said restaurants have a great amount of control over several aspects of on-campus franchises.

“Bama Dining holds the franchise license for the national brands in the food service locations and the brand determines the price in most cases,” she said. “Just as the brand determines the equipment, fixtures and signage, they also determine the pricing. The pricing tier assigned for the locations comes from the brand based on the franchise agreement.”

Hopton-Jones also said Bama Dining runs all of the food services on campus, and the brands are brought to campus through market research, surveys, focus groups and current trends.

In an emailed statement, Denise Schilling, a customer care representative for Subway, said the on-campus restaurant has a large amount of leeway in setting prices.

“As all Subway locations are individually owned and operated, pricing, promotions and the acceptance of coupons may vary from location to location,” she said in an email.

Chick-fil-A Spokesperson Mark Baldwin said the company works with the University to set prices for on-campus franchises.

“We work with our food service business partners in conjunction with their client – The University of Alabama, in this case – to establish on-campus pricing that meets guidelines that Chick-fil-A

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