NEWS

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October 30, 2009

SG member secures restaurant discounts

Nine local restaurants now offer discounts to UCID-holders, the result of second-year College Council (CC) representative Chen Kuan’s plan to get students out of the dining hall and into the surrounding community.

Popular restaurants on 53rd, 55th, and 57th streets offer 10 to 20 percent off of all purchases made with a UCID. Kuan is working to add at least 10 more restaurants to the list within the next few weeks.

With the closing of the Shoreland, fewer students living around Hyde Park means fewer customers for businesses who benefited from high undergraduate traffic, Kuan said. He also cited the new meal plan: Since students have already paid for unlimited food, they may not want to pay for a night out.

Pablo Wong, owner of Nicky’s Chinese Food on 53rd Street and Woodlawn Avenue, said that the policy is cutting students off from Hyde Park. “I think it’s almost an incomplete college experience for a college student to go to a new neighborhood and not be able to experience the neighborhood around them,” said Wong, whose restaurant will offer a limited-time offer of 20 percent off delivery orders to students. Wong said students made up about 10 percent of his business.

However, few students are aware of the discounts due to lack of advertising and few restaurants have seen students take advantage of the discount.

Wong Pin, an employee at Thai 55, said the restaurant lost a lot of foot traffic when the Shoreland closed. In past years, business soared when students returned in the fall. An especially harsh downside, he said, is first-years who don’t know the area.

Many of these restaurants have never offered an everyday discount to students, owners said. Kikuya, on 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue, previously offered a back-to-school special, which, according to owner Rawee Wejakija, attracted a lot of business early in the quarter. But business has fallen since, he said, motivating him to offer a 15 percent discount through Kuan’s program.

Abed Moughrabi, general manager of The Nile, a Middle Eastern restaurant located on 55th Street and Hyde Park Avenue, offered different reasons for its 10 percent discount. Aside from trying to bring in first-years who don’t know the area, Moughrabi said he accepted Kuan’s offer because of Kuan’s business tactics.

“[Kuan] talked me into it, just the way he came across,” Moughrabi said. “He is obviously a business major, he knew just what to say.”

A full list of restaurants who are participating is located on the Student Government (SG) web site at http://sg.uchicago.edu/uncategorized/discount-from-hyde-park-vendors-updating/.

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