By Chelsea LoCascio
As students were finishing their finals, packing up and returning home last semester, Verizon Wireless was opening its doors to the public. Since then, Campus Town as a whole has made a few more changes.
After Verizon opened in December, Piccolo Pronto — the College’s fast food version of Piccolo Trattoria — welcomed customers on Friday, Jan. 22, in time for the start of the new semester.
Following Piccolo Pronto, other businesses are lining up to open within the next couple of months. According to PRC Group’s Director of University Campus Development Greg Lentine, who is heading the Campus Town project, Panera Bread is scheduled to open its doors by the end of February, just before Mexican Mariachi Grill, set to open late February or early March.
Other eateries include Yummy Sushi, with construction expected to finish in March, and Brickwall Tavern and Dining Room, expected to open in August, according to Lentine. Polished Nails Salon is set to open sometime before the end of the spring semester.
With new restaurants opening up in such a close proximity to campus itself, some wonder if coveted meal plan points will be accepted to purchase food outside of the College. According to Patrice Mendes, Sodexo’s general manager, since Campus Town and the College are separate entities, an agreement to let students use their meal plan points at these restaurants will not be made.
Since students currently comprise the majority of customers at Campus Town, the businesses that set up shop before this semester, like RedBerry Frozen Yogurt and Barnes & Noble, saw a noticeable decrease in business during the winter break, according to Lentine. However, as he pointed out, the former sells cold food that is not as favorable in the winter and the latter targets students by selling the College’s merchandise and textbooks.
“We believe that when (more) businesses open up, there will be more people (from outside the College) coming in,” Lentine said.
The low attendance rate by those living in the surrounding community, however, is due to a lack of advertising targeting those living outside of the College’s campus, said Lentine. According to Campus Town’s website, although the PRC Group is in charge of construction and management, Lentine said they intend to do some general marketing for Campus Town, but the individual businesses are in charge of their own advertising.
According to Lentine, another major change students should look out for is new parking regulations. As of Monday, Feb. 1, students will not be allowed to park in the spaces assigned for Campus Town retail customers only.
“If students park there, they will be ticketed and towed,” Lentine said. “If they buy a (frozen) yogurt and (then) go to class, then they aren’t a retail customer.”
According to Lentine, Campus Town residents who have signed up for parking and have decals are only permitted to park in their assigned lots.