Students react to Costa closure and outlet changes on campus
Students have had mixed reactions to changes to outlets on campus according to an Exeposé survey. This comes in the wake of Costa closing on 22 April, following the expiry of the outlet’s ten-year lease and the outlet’s choice not to renew it. Forum Kitchen opened on 2 May in the Forum.
When asked if they felt Costa was a good outlet to have on campus, 40 out of the 50 survey respondents thought it was, compared to only 25 out of 50 when asked the same question in regards to the Forum Kitchen.
For Costa, seven out of 50 respondents expressed indifference to the changes with only three (6 per cent) saying they thought it wasn’t a good outlet to have on campus. This is compared to 16 out of 50 (32 per cent) being indifferent to the Forum Kitchen, and nine out of 50 saying they thought that the Forum Kitchen wasn’t a good outlet to have on campus.
When asked how they felt about Costa closing, many respondents expressed disappointment. ‘Upset’, ‘devastated’ and ‘gutted’ were among the responses. One respondent expressed disappointment, particularly towards the fact that this was the closure of a coffee outlet on campus, expressing that they felt there weren’t enough ‘relaxed café type outlets on campus, only restaurants and Pret.’ Similar responses claimed i’s outdoor seating and centrality to campus meant it was a ‘nice spot to meet up with friends’ without the time-consuming nature of Pret.
Others expressed concerns that the Pret queue might get worse if a new outlet is not opened, ‘means Pret queue will be even bigger,’ or that they appreciated having ‘another option if the queue in Pret is very long.’ Many respondents say they would miss the variety offered by Costa, with one pointing towards Costa paninis in particular as ‘generally less expensive and better for value than Pret.’
31 out of 50 (62 percent) of students surveyed said that they had visited the Forum Kitchen. Students were divided about the affordability of the new Forum Kitchen, with a few responses stressing the affordability of the outlet and others that it was too expensive. One student commented that ‘it’s good prices, nice food and good vibes,’ while another said it was ‘fairly expensive and takes a long time to get food.’ Many expressed concern that the seating area is ‘too small’ and becomes busy quickly, making it impractical for campus lunch. Whilst some responses appreciated the rotation system, others claimed it meant the ‘range of food’ is limited.
One respondent expressed concern that the Forum Kitchen is not ‘disability friendly’, suggesting ‘loud music’ makes the space ‘inaccessible for people with autism and sensory issues.’ When asked if they had any further opinions about changes to outlets on campus, students again emphasised affordability. ‘Affordability on campus is a massive issue that the university and Guild need to take more seriously.’ Another expressed the opinion that ‘It was much better when I started in 2018. There was a pizzeria, the Terrace restaurant, the marketplace had a better variety of sandwiches.’
Variety in outlets was also a concern students expressed in the survey. Another student said ‘there needs to be a greater variety and more cafes.’
When asked about the recent change to outlets on campus, a representative from the university gave the following comment: ‘Costa had a ten-year lease which they chose not to renew once it expired. Costa have not approached the University about opening another branch on the Streatham Campus. Staff from the outlet were offered a number of alternatives, including the opportunity to work in other university outlets, or posts in other branches of Costa in the city’.
‘The University is hoping to be able to announce who will be replacing the former Costa store very soon. The new Forum Kitchen builds on the success of the popular street markets on Streatham Campus. The new indoor, relaxed and modern space aims to replicate the diverse food options that the street markets offer and grow our partnerships with independent, local food and drink traders. The University has been showcasing the new space to local businesses and we are keen to encourage a diverse range of traders to set up in the pods to offer ever-changing dishes and food experiences for our students, staff and visitors. to meet up with friends’ without the time-consuming nature of Pret’.
Article from print issue 733