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Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Last updated: 12:14pm

Student Union remodels On Deck Deli, adds exclusive Gluten-free space



In order to combat an outdated look and falling sales, the Arizona Student Unions is making a variety of remodeling decisions at a deli on campus.

Approximately 26 percent of On Deck Deli’s sales, located in the Student Union Memorial Center, come from bagel sales and its sales are down 12 percent from last year, according to Todd Millay, marketing manager of Arizona Student Unions. There are no exact numbers with regards to how many sales On Deck Deli has lost to
Einstein Bros Bagels, since there is no proven direct correlation.

Sales can only be shown for the restaurant as a whole and include sandwich and bagel sales. However, Millay said it is assumed that most of On Deck’s bagel sales went to Einstein’s.

“On Deck Deli has competition from Einstein’s for bagels,” Millay said. “We wanted to spend a little time giving them a little energy, freshness, [before we changed On Deck].”

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By Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat Students order sandwiches at On Deck Deli between classes. On Deck Deli follows an assembly line process, allowing students to customize their order with a wide selection of breads, meats, cheese, veggies, and dressings.

Another factor to declining sales is that On Deck is around 10 years old, according to Millay, and as with any restaurant, there is a trend of declining sales as more time passes.

“It’s been there a while and the concepts become stale if you don’t grow,” Millay said.

Two and a half months went into planning the project and it took the designer about a month of trial and error before the concept was finished, according to Millay.

“We knew we wanted to do something with it to freshen it up to help reintroduce what they do over there,” Millay said. “What drove it was the gluten-free and the grab and go. We’re responding to a couple of student patterns and we had the opportunity to integrate those at On Deck Deli and we said ‘Let’s freshen up the whole operation while we add these two.’”

Gluten-free and to-go food options were incorporated in the new design, as well as new signs, new food cases, better lighting and the extinction of order slips. Most of the renovation was in electrical work and cost a little more than $6,000, according to Millay.

A big change to the restaurant involves the to-go area that has a new refrigerated food case, which students are already utilizing. Third year architecture students Stephanie Oleksa and Taylor Arnold enjoy the swiftness of the to-go area.

“We like that they have these things [food options] to-go because the fact that they’re always pre-made, [means] we can just get it and run,” Oleksa said. “And we like that they have sandwiches now.”

Other students commented on the benefits of the displays, as well as the food to go.

“I really like the displays that they have above. It stands out a
and helps direct people where to go,” said Brett Daniels, a psychology sophomore. “And I really like the grab-and-go sandwiches.”

Gluten-free options were another important aspect to include in the renovation, Millay said. Before, On Deck Deli offered gluten-free options, but it wasn’t clear what they were because there wasn’t a sign or separate case like there is now. The orange neon sign hangs above the gluten-free products to differentiate it.

“We wanted to keep it [the color] to stick out, to understand it’s a different product,” Millay said.

Furthermore, On Deck Deli has ended the era of order slips in the bagel section and is now more like Subway, where students can choose their food as they go down the order line. New decals are on the case windows in order to show students their options.

“We wanted to get away from the slips,” Millay said. “We wanted to enhance the experience; someone talking to you and walking you through the line like they do at Core so that they can answer more questions or introduce something new to you.”

Getting rid of the dark space is another issue that Arizona Student Unions had to fight for in the renovation. In order to open up the space, the large refrigerators have been replaced with smaller ones that don’t rise above the cashier counters and new LED lights have been installed. However, the job still isn’t finished. This semester, more lights will be added above the area that students walk through to order food, Millay said.

“The space was kind of dark actually and we’re only halfway through the lighting, but it’s incredibly brighter now,” Millay said. “We have new LED lighting actually above the line service now, which lights from behind the case to behind the counter.”

Other changes include decals placed along the bottom borders of the food cases to hide dead space and add color, the back area being gutted to include the to-go food case,and the addition of a wall behind the to-go food case that has a hidden storage area.

The area where employees make sandwiches and bagels is now a wooden design rather than white one. The wall beside On Deck Deli has its logo repeated, as well as what services it offers, in large font.

“We hope they [students] come and check it out,” Millay said. “Particularly, we are trying to get the message out: Gluten-free students, we have a new defined space just for you.”


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