Chartwells’ prices comparable to local restaurants

Kate Fechter

Eating the food sold in the Union Market on campus is a convenient way to refuel in between classes, but there is mixed opinions about the price of the food.

“They (Union Market) have a lot of options,” said Rachel Beard, a junior. “But it is pretty overpriced.”

Shedding some light on the reasons for the cost, Matt Beadleston, director of dining services, said two factors determine the price at the Union Market, the consumer price index for food away from home and a price comparison of area food retailers. Each year prices are set by a price comparison in the spring. Prices are proposed and remain at the accepted levels for the academic year.

This article will compare the cost of combo meals at the six different stations served in the Union Market with the cost of eating food at restaurants off campus, fast food and otherwise. This is at current retail prices, not what the prices were when the Union Market’s prices were set last spring. Also prices listed are before tax unless otherwise specified.

A cheeseburger combo from the grill, which includes fries and a 24 ounce drink, is $5.39 after tax. A cheeseburger combo from Sonic with fries and a regular drink is only a penny cheaper, $5.38 after tax. A cheeseburger from Applebee’s is $7.99 and includes fries, but you have to pay extra if you want anything to drink other than water.

At the Chinese station, a meal with an entrée, rice, egg roll and drink comes to $6.75 with tax included. A lunch special from Golden Dynasty off 29th and Fairlawn runs from $4.59 to $5.30, and includes entrée, rice, egg roll or crab Rangoon and egg drop or hot and sour soup. It does not include a drink, so after you add a drink the price evens out. Golden Dynasty is take out or drive thru only, so you also will have to take it somewhere or eat it in your car. Jade Garden, located on 21st street, has lunch specials ranging from $4.20 to $4.99, and includes the same things as Golden Dynasty. You can sit and eat lunch there, pick it up to go, or have it delivered.

The main event station serves meals like meatloaf or chicken breast with two sides, usually a vegetable and a potato or starch of some sort. A meal from there with the entrée, two sides and a drink comes to $7.55 after tax. At Boston Market on Wanamaker, a meatloaf individual meal, which comes with two sides and corn bread, is $6.29. A drink is $1.39, so a meal with a drink is $7.68. A meal with an entrée and two sides at Denny’s is $7.99 to $8.99. So after a drink is added, it would run about $10 to $12.

The deli station, which serves sub sandwiches and wraps, has a combo which comes to $7.54 to $7.97 after tax. A six-inch sub sandwich combo from Subway runs from $5.68 to $6.18. At Planet Sub a six-inch sub combo ranges from $5.78 to $8.88.

One of the most popular stations at the Union Market is the Italian station. Pasta is served with bread but no drink and is $5.39 after tax. Pepperoni flat bread pizza is $4.89 and a drink is $1.49; together, with tax, they are $6.89. Cici’s Pizza has a buffet that is $4.49 and includes pizza, pasta and salad. A drink is extra. A personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut is $4.31 after tax. The lunch entrée three cheese chicken penne and caesar salad at Applebee’s is $5.99.

For those who want to eat healthier, the Union Market offers many different types of salads. A wild caesar tossed salad combo is $7.55 after tax. A chicken caesar salad from Chili’s is $8.29, with a drink being extra. A chicken caesar salad and a drink from Wendy’s is $7.32 after tax. The price of a salad from Wendy’s is comparable to the price of a salad from the Union Market.

One interesting thing about the food in the Memorial Union is the quality. Beadleston explained that the meat served is from antibiotic-free, growth-hormone-free animals. The eggs used are from cage-free chickens and the fish is part of the Sustainable Seafood Program. This means that only seafood not in danger of being over-fished is used. Also all oils used contain zero trans fat.

The prices are comparable between the restaurants and the price of food at the union, but something else to keep in mind is the cost of gasoline to drive and pick up food between classes. Feb. 7, gasoline in Kansas averaged $2.51 per gallon for regular gas. At 20 miles per gallon, a two-mile round tip adds 26 cents to an off-campus meal.

One aspect to pricing that may not be considered by students is the costs that go into producing the food we eat. Beadleston explained that those costs include wages and benefits for employees, cost of the food, maintaining equipment, utilities and a commission paid to Washburn. This commission goes to cover the $120,000 bond that the student union pays annually for the construction of the Living Learning Center.

 “The money spent on food here goes back to the university,” said Beadleston.