Campus Services Severs Ties with Chick-Fil-A, Searches for Replacement

Following NYU’s announcement that it will end its relationship with Chick-fil-A, NYU Dining Services and students are collaborating to decide potential replacements.

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Shawn Paik

Chick-Fil-A location at NYU was located at Upstein food court prior to Spring 2021 semester. NYU formally requested that Chartwells terminate their licensing agreement with the brand, concluding that the long-term space, brand, and capital requirements presented by Chick-Fil-A is no longer adequate for NYU. (Photo by Shawn Paik)

By Nina Huang, Staff Writer

NYU formally requested that Chartwells terminate their licensing agreement with the Chick-fil-A at Upstein Food Court in Weinstein Hall following the Spring 2021 semester. The decision was announced on Feb. 10, as NYU Local previously reported. The university’s Dining Advisory Board and students are working together to find a dining concept to replace Chick-fil-A. 

“NYU’s Campus Services office concluded that the long-term space, brand, and capital requirements presented to us by Chick-Fil-A do not work,” Kathrina O’Mahony, the Senior Director of Campus Services, in a statement to WSN. 

The university requested the termination of the licensing agreement. 

“We expect to have a new concept finalized towards the end of the semester,” O’Mahony continued. “As with all of the decisions we make around dining options, we endeavor to find the right combination of quality, ease, and affordability. Obviously, since the students are the primary customers, student feedback will be of critical importance in the ultimate selection.”

According to Nicky Nenkov, the Chair of the Student Government Assembly, the decision was proposed by Samantha Santana, the President of the Inter-Residence Hall Council, in the form of a resolution.

“We had a meeting with Owen Moore, who was an administrator in dining, and we had a conversation with him speaking about this initiative,” Nenkov said. “This was already after the resolution was drafted, and in the conversation, it became clear that they were interested in doing whatever the student government or the students wanted. So, I think maybe a week after the resolution passed in SGA, a member of dining announced that the university was cutting ties with the company.”

NYU students expressed supportive opinions in response. 

“Chick-fil-A being on-campus has been a controversy for more than 10 years,” said CAS first-year Reed Miller. “It may be that because NYU’s contract with Chick-fil-A is possibly expiring soon, they decided to replace it given the company’s ties with conversion therapy and homophobic organizations … NYU obviously has a reputation they want to keep, whether or not it be sincere.”

“It makes sense why NYU would close down Chick-fil-A because we do pride ourselves in diversity, acceptance and inclusion,” CAS first-year Tara Zulfikar agreed. “I’m quite proud of NYU for pulling the trigger.”

Following the announcement, there have been questions about not only what will replace Chick-fil-A, but also who will facilitate this conversation.

“I think it was great that students had this idea to get the Chick-fil-A contract dropped,” Vice-Chair of the Student Senators Council Mira Silveira said. “Chick-fil-A’s investments and morals don’t really align with the University’s… I think the challenge now is finding something that does reflect what students want and in terms of … sustainable investments and better, more accessible dining options.”

The Campus Services Office and Dining Services Board are working with students and student leaders to draft a temporary replacement plan. Provisional substitutes for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters have been discussed at two Dining Advisory meetings.

The three potential NYU Eats In-House options discussed at the advisory meeting on Tuesday, March 10, were a burger station, a chicken-tender sandwich concept and Chartwells’ own NYU-specific brands ranging from Fry Shack, to Bowl Life, to Melt Lab. The last option would likely rotate every two weeks. 

On the whole, students at the March 10 meeting preferred the last option because of the variety and because the first and second options could be integrated into the third. However, students also noted that the rotation would make it difficult to determine what students actually enjoy. They suggested a constant drinks menu or sauce selection to oblige students who favor consistency. 

The temporary replacement concept will be decided at the third and final Dining Advisory meeting on Tuesday, March 16. Campus Services will then finalize the menu, order equipment, schedule renovations for the space currently occupied by Chick-fil-A and train staff in time for the next semester. 

In the fall, the meetings will continue with newly admitted students to decide permanent replacement options. The Dining Advisory Board has not yet decided whether they will cater to a chain at Upstein, but it is still on the table. 

“For me, as a queer student, I’m happy to see Chick-fil-A go,” Nenkov said. “I have no qualms about it … In terms of what I want to see replace it, I don’t really think that my opinion matters because I’m graduating. I want the people involved in this decision to be people who will be on campus when it comes to fruition.”

Students interested in attending the March 16 meeting can email [email protected].

Email Nina Huang at [email protected]