The food at UBC needs to change. It is tired, boring, overpriced and shows little consideration for what should be essential to running any business: customer satisfaction.
If you want to grab some food between classes or if you’re maybe hoping to enjoy a nice dinner with a date, your choices on campus are limited. The fare of UBC Food Services has in some ways gotten better — especially with the revitalization of the food trucks — but in most ways it is long overdue for some change. I’ve been going here for four years and I still see the same, pathetically small and largely flavourless muffins being served at every café between Buchanan and Forestry.
It also must be pointed out that the quality of Mercante’s pizzas has plummeted in the last year. I remember when they opened and I can say that the pizzas they were serving then are superior to what they throw in a box now.
The Nest is better in that there is a good variety, but the prices are still far too high for the quality of food that you are getting — and that’s a big problem when a lot of students live on tight budgets. Great shame goes to Honour Roll, who somehow has managed to find a new low to hit when all of our expectations were already at rock bottom. The only exceptions are the Delly’s Chef’s Corner and Soup Market, which not only aim to make their food interesting, but also maintain affordable prices.
If you want pub food and a beer, Mahoney’s is overpriced and lame; Gallery 2.0 has some of the most incompetent service I’ve ever seen and a sad, sad menu; and Koerner’s is great but a little off the beaten path and open at weirdly inconsistent times.
But beyond that, I — and most other people I know — go off campus to find a meal that doesn’t underwhelm. It hardly seems right that I can take a 30 minute bus ride almost anywhere else and get really good food that is sometimes cheaper than anything that I could hope to find at UBC.
But all of that is about to change.
With the opening of the new apartment building by the trolley bus loop, a selection of some of Vancouver’s most beloved restaurants are being brought right to UBC’s doorstep. Bao Down, Nori, Joe Pizza, Jam Jar, TacoMio, Rain or Shine and JJ Bean are moving in and they are bringing with them the promise of food the likes of which students have only dreamed of.
JJ Bean’s coffee is better than everywhere except maybe Boulevard. Nori’s udon puts the rainwater they serve next to Sauder to shame. Rain or Shine obliterates whatever the hell is served at the frozen yogurt places. Even the restaurants that have yet to open are already known to be great.
Competition is finally arriving at UBC and all of the other cafés, restaurants and pizza places should be trembling with unbridled terror. These old establishments have all forgotten that what makes businesses thrive and endure is the satisfaction of their customers — i.e. students who give them money to make food they will actually like eating. And it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when I eat garbage food that costs too much because they know students have no choice but to pay.
To the managers of the various food establishments of UBC and the AMS: when you look at your books and notice a drastic plummet in sales over the coming months, know that it is because your clients are not happy and are feeling neglected. Get your shit together and serve us what we want — good, cheap food.
The basic rules of economics say that people are willing to pay more when they think that they are getting more and when what they get makes them happy. The Sauder School of Business is not that far away — you’d expect that some of the lessons taught there might percolate through to the some of UBC and the AMS’s actual businesses.