Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer
Paula Amols, director of Dining Services, is looking into expanding Murray State’s dining options to include the fast food chain Chick-fil-A.
Amols said construction would not break ground until July 2018 because any university project that exceeds $600,000 must be to sent to Frankfort for approval.
Amols said students could use their flex dollars to purchase their meal. The restaurant would be located on the south end of campus near the science buildings. However, Amols could not specify the exact location because of property negotiations.
“That is a large population that needs something closer by,” Amols said. “We also wanted something that could be accessible to the general public, if they wanted to come. So, I’m really excited we’ve found this spot, and it seems to be highly feasible.”
The estimated cost for the project could be between $2 and $4 million, depending on the model of the restaurant. Amols said the project will be funded internally, so the university does not incur debt.
Amols met with Chick-fil-A representatives for a site visit in early March, where they discussed different models, like brick and mortar store, walk-up counter and a drive through.
She said she is pushing for a full brick and mortar version.
Brick and mortar is a traditional, physical presence of a business. A brick and mortar Chick-fil-A includes a full menu and seating for guests.
“If we are going to do this, then I rather we do it right and give as much as we can to the students that will be using it,” Amols said.
Bringing the fast food chain to Murray State’s campus has been on Amols’ mind for about two years, when she said she first spoke with a Chick-fil-A representative. At that time, there was not a location available and Chick-fil-A executives were not interested in a food truck, which was Amols’ suggestion.
About 15 months ago, Amols said she spoke with executives about building a stand-alone Chick-fil-A because most food chains on college campuses are located in a food court.
Amols said the administration supports adding more food options, and the project is in the three-year capital plan for 2016-2018.
“We know it would be a huge home run for everyone,” Amols said. “ We think the community would love it as well.”
Charlie Graves, senior from Murray, said adding more food variety is a good thing because more choices produces happier students.
“You give people options and they are happy because they feel empowered rather than limited,” Graves said.
Along with more options, he said having a Chick-fil-A would be beneficial if it opened more student-worker jobs, and it’s another place students could spend flex.
“I know there are a ton of restaurants where my friends and peers will say, ‘if only this place took flex, I would eat there all the time or if this place took flex,’ because I think flex is a lot more spendable for students than the money we earn,” Graves said.
Like Graves, Brandon Nolan, junior from Evansville, Indiana, said Chick-fil-A gives more options to students, but also it will better distribute students during meal times at Thoroughbred Room and Winslow Dining Hall to thin out the lines.
Nolan, a biology major, said he realizes the need for dining on the south end of campus near the science buildings.
“I know the struggle of lunchtime: either walking a huge distance to Winslow or T-room, or waiting 30 minutes plus at the Pony Express for lunch,” Nolan said. “A building in that area would be great for those majors at lunch time.”
He said increased food option makes Murray State more marketable and allows students to splurge on flex once in awhile.
“I think it’s a great idea for Murray State to bring any chain restaurant, especially Chick-fil-A to campus,” Nolan said. “Chick-fil-A has great food, and is very popular among college students.”