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WV Capitol Eatery to Go Self-Op

The contracted Capitol Food Court in the basement of the West Virginia state capitol building in Charleston will close at the end of July and reopen later in the year under self-management, reports the Charleston Gazette. The move will allow current contractor Guest Services, Inc., to terminate its money-losing deal with the state’s Dept. of Administration.

The food court, which was renovated at a cost of $3.7 million in 2007, had lost in excess of $180,000 for Guest Services when the company asked to be let out of its two-year deal back in March 2009, the paper reports. When the contract was rebid couple months later, the winning bidder, AVI Food Services, insisted that the state make some $150,000 in facility improvements as a condition of its taking on the contract. When negotiations fell apart, Guest Services agreed to resume management.

However, losses have continued to mount, due primarily to the fact that, except for the annual 60-day legislative session, the food court draws little customer traffic because of competition from surrounding commercial alternatives. The state is hoping to increase customer counts by charging lower prices than Guest Services was able to because it will only have to operate on a break-even basis instead of generating a profit, and by using inmate labor from the Division of Corrections’s work release program.

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