One recurring objection onsite operators face is the Dollar Menu Challenge, as in "how come you can't have a dollar menu like McDonald's?" Most operators answer either by citing the higher quality of their offerings, the convenience factor or—if they are feeling especially adventurous—the cost structure of in-house foodservices.
At Wright State University in Dayton, OH, the in-house foodservice operation decided that if it can't beat ‘em, it might as well join ‘em. In late March, the university's dining services, which are managed by Sodexho, unveiled a dollar menu at its Grill On the Barbie station in the school's Union Market food court.
The menu includes 99-cent mini-burgers, five chicken nuggets, a chicken sandwich, mini fries, hot dog and soft drink (Pepsi up to 32 oz.), as well as a $1.09 mini cheeseburger.
The same station also features more traditionally priced fare, such as a hamburger combo for $4.95, a chicken patty combo for $5.35 and a shrimp boat combo for $5.95. The combos include fries and a 22-oz. drink.
The dollar menu, which is not a limited-time promotion, has been a success in the early going, says Charles Porter, resident district manager for Sodexho. "It has boosted sales and we have not seen a reduction in check
averages," he says. Porter adds that the dollar menu seems to help attract customers who often decide to buy off the regular menus of either Grill On the Barbie or the food court's seven other stations.