McDonald's comes to campus

A McDonald's franchise will open this semester in the Butler Pavilion despite the proximity of another franchise currently located less than one mile away on Wisconsin Avenue.

The opening of the restaurant is slated for the end of October, though the size of the necessary construction project could delay the completion, according to Hillary Dallas, AU's director of Retail and Leasing Operations.

The decision to open the restaurant, which will replace Armand's Pizzeria, was based on several surveys over the last several years, according to AU Auxiliary Services. The most recent survey, taken this past summer, asked 300 incoming freshmen and transfer students their restaurant preferences.

"When we have a space that becomes available, we make a decision based on what's best for the university community, [and] what the students can use," Assistant Treasurer Scott Byers said.

McDonald's won with 13 percent of the vote. While the poll of the incoming students, who may not have been familiar with the area and not have known that another McDonald's was located nearby, AU administration said several other polls that included current students who were aware of the area were taken as well. These polls also showed support for a McDonald's on campus, said Dallas.

"We've had numerous surveys of the students' preferences. We did a large dining services survey of students of all classes last year" which was used in the decision to open a McDonald's, Dallas said. "I don't want to say we made a decision off of one poll."

"I think the biggest thing [about this McDonald's] will be the convenience that it gives the students," Dallas said.

Twelve percent of students in the most recent survey requested a Subway, and 10 percent voted for Starbucks coffee, Dallas said, but McDonald's was the overall winner.

"We don't have a Subway, but we have Sub Connection and we serve Starbucks in the Tavern," Dallas said.

The McDonald's will "adapt to the community's needs, but it will still be a standard McDonald's in terms of menu items and other company practices," Byers said.

The restaurant will accept Eagle Bucks, he said.

McDonald's will be larger than Armand's due to its expansion into a vacant space adjacent to the restaurant. It is built to accommodate 58 sit-down patrons, though depending on construction, that number can change.

There is enough business in the area for both the restaurants on campus and on Wisconsin Avenue to operate, Byers said. The franchise owner of the Wisconsin Avenue location, Max Van Bamburkenbur, is also the owner of the campus location.

There are 34 McDonald's franchises within Washington, D.C.

AU wanted a restaurant to replace Armand's, Byers said. He pointed out that there are no other fast food chain restaurants on campus and that McDonald's can give students another choice for dinner.

"We hope that the McDonald's will integrate with other needs and gives students other options," Byers said. Carlos Alva, manager at the McDonald's located at 4130 Wisconsin Ave. said that AU students do make up a significant proportion of his business.

"Weeknights from seven to nine o'clock we see a lot of students come in," he said. "But the rest of the neighborhood has also made business very good for us"

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