When it comes to student dining, two of the most popular locations besides Commons are Chick-fil-A, located in the Guerrieri Student Union and Hungry Minds in the Guerrieri Academic Commons.
Both Chick-fil-A and Hungry Minds offer students an alternative to Commons, and both dining locations are relatively new to campus. Chick-fil-A opened in January 2017, while Hungry Minds opened in September 2016 and students were quick to choose their ideal location to eat.
New students coming to campus will likely recognize the red-and-white logo and associate the fast-food chain with its chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and milkshakes. Students who already know and trust the Chick-fil-A brand before coming to campus will be more inclined to eat at SU’s location and keep coming back for more.
In 2017’s American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report, Chick-fil-A pulled the highest customer satisfaction rating of all fast food restaurants surveyed, beating its second-place competitor by five full points.
This is an advantage for Chick-fil-A that Hungry Minds does not have. While Hungry Minds offers a much more diverse menu than Chick-fil-A, including made-to-order items such as burgers, subs, quesadillas and grab-and-go options including sandwiches, cold wraps, salads and desserts, it cannot compete with a chain that students already know and love.
However, Chick-fil-A’s menu is noticeably limited. While Hungry Minds has 35 food options (including entrees, sides and desserts) listed on its online menu, not including many of its grab-and-go items, Chick-fil-A has only 21.
Hungry Minds is also the better option for students who are vegetarian or simply do not like chicken. However, Chick-fil-A’s smaller, more focused menu works as an advantage. With a large and diverse menu, it is more difficult for eateries such as Hungry Minds to be known for an iconic food item.
The way that customers order at Chick-fil-A and Hungry Minds is different as well. A diner’s experience at SU’s Chick-fil-A is similar to that of any fast food restaurant: the diner goes up to a counter, tells an employee what they would like and waits for their food.
Hungry Minds’ approach is a little more complicated for it involves students’ usage of technology. Patrons order through a screen, leaving one order receipt in a basket next to the screen while taking the other to a cashier to pay for their order all in small space packed with other students.
Hungry Minds is a double-edged sword for a lot of students because while the prices have been lowered since first opening, there is limited seating along with limited space when ordering items.
In the end, Chick-fil-A’s more traditional approach to dining, its familiarity as a fast food chain and the simplicity of its menu are attracting students to dine there more than Hungry Minds.
Freshman biology and art major Emily Donahue prefers the familiar fast-food chain over the library’s food kiosk.
“I think Chick-fil-A is way better because it is cheaper and you just cannot beat that sauce,” Donahue said in reference to the chain’s iconic yellow Chick-fil-A sauce.
That is not to say that students should not give Hungry Minds a chance, though. Since it is not a chain restaurant, it is taking longer to gain students’ trust.
Perhaps by focusing on specific menu items or flaunting the fact that it offers alternatives to chicken, Hungry Minds could become a more popular choice with students.
By ALLISON GUY
Featured photo: Since its opening at the Guerrieri Student Union, Chick-fil-A has been one of the key attractions to incoming Salisbury University students.(Megan Campbell image).