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An Entrepreneurial Model at the Student Center

An Entrepreneurial Model at the Student Center

MIT's Student Center offers a diverse mix of foodservice outlets, mostly operated by local entrepreneurs. From left to right: Anna's Taquerias, Operations Manager Director Ward Ganger discussing daily operations with workers at the Cambridge Grill; and a view of Shinkansen Japan "Bullet Train Fast Food"

Campus residents can buy a full range of groceries at LaVerde's Market, a c-store in the Student Center.


The MIT Student Center is located on Massachusetts Ave. in the center of campus and is a primary traffic area for students between classes. Retail foodservice has always existed there, but over the past three years campus dining has completely changed the service model.

Rather than managing its main floor and second floor Lobdell Food Court foodservices via a master contract, the school has instead sought out a mix of local and regional independent operators to open secondary locations on campus.

The third floor Lobdell Food Court, formerly serviced with a series of contract-managed stations, now houses three distinctly different restaurant operations. These include Shinkansen Japan "Bullet Train Fast Food," offering Japanese sushi and stir fry; Middle Eastern cuisine prepared by Sepal, operated by the owner of a popular-restaurant located in Watertown, MA, and Mangia, Mangia, an Italian concept that rotates pasta casseroles, made to order salads, hearty soups and pizzeria fare.

On the first floor, MIT leases a large space to LaVarde's Market, a c-store operator that provides students with a full range of retail groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables, convenience snacks and fresh prepared grab-and-go foods.

The first floor houses Anna's Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant run by a local Boston chain. It also features The Alpine Bagel Cafè and Cambridge Grill, two flexible quickservice concepts run by an operator with food court experience in the college market (it also runs the Italian concept on the second floor). They emphasize fresh from-scratch bagels and breakfast sandwiches, adding an extensive grill, pizza and salad menu for lunch. Additional concepts featuring Thai and Indian food are set to open in the spring.

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