Emory should invest in Emory Village
Emory University students who have recently traveled to Emory Village seeking respite from the food served at the Dobbs Common Table (DCT) and Cox Hall will have been disappointed. Pandemic-related declines in attendance have turned Emory Village into a ghost town, with the former locations of Lucky’s Burgers and Brew, Slice and Pint and Rise-n-Dine all vacant with no clear replacements on the horizon.
Many other establishments in the area do not cater well to the Village’s largest clientele: Emory’s student body. For example, many menu options at restaurants such as Double Zero and Wagaya are too expensive for most college students. In order to make Emory Village an integral part of the Emory community, the University should purchase the property and work closely with business owners to put in place a plan for students to pay with Dooley dollars.
Direct control of Emory Village by the University is not a new idea. Although Emory took into consideration buying it in the mid-1990s, that never happened. Owning the property would move away from high-end offerings for the wealthy in the community and entice student-centric businesses to come to Emory Village. Having more cheap and fast food options would not only create more student traffic, but also provide more dining choices and convenience. The University would gain rental income and a more attractive campus environment. By being the center of a vibrant and thriving community that has much to offer young people, especially in terms of dining, Emory to attract more new students and improve the experience for existing members of the Emory community. It would be a considerable investment on the part of the University, but it would pay off in the long run.
Even if the University is unwilling to take direct control of Emory Village, pushing its restaurants to accept Dooley Dollars would go a long way to making them more accessible to students. the savings on taxes would add up for students to make Emory Village restaurants more financially viable as alternatives to on-campus dining options. A student who typically spends $50 a week on food at Emory Village would save nearly $200 a year if he didn’t have to pay state and local authorities. sales tax.
Emory should work to ensure student food security and do what it can to make campus life more affordable. Emory Student Intervention Services saw an 80% increase in the number of students who required food assistance between 2016 and 2019. Securing inexpensive and accessible food options at Emory Village would alleviate some pressures on students who are cash-strapped .
Emory Village is a central part of the student experience, just a one-minute walk from the heart of campus. Village restaurants and shops serve students, faculty, and staff, providing an alternative to on-campus services without the hassle of a long drive. In fact, University graduates went to open their own restaurants and bars in the area, including the now closed Jagger’s, as well as Park Bench & Tap. In recent years, however, some Emory Village businesses, such as the upscale spa Tutor, are more oriented towards the wealthier residents of Druid Hills, making Emory Village a void right on Emory’s doorstep for students.
The restaurants that have remained open are far too expensive for students – expensive establishments such as Wagaya, Dave’s Cosmic Subs and double zero fail to provide affordable alternatives for eating even semi-regularly. Regardless of quality, a pasta dish that costs more than $16, like the cheapest pasta option at Double Zero, just isn’t sustainable for college students. Although there are other cheaper options, including the beloved Falafel King, there is not enough variety to satisfy the needs of Emory students. Emory Village is also a short walk from campus, allowing students to save money on gas or carpooling for those who fancy an off-campus meal.
Emory needs to take action to improve Emory Village. The current mix of closed stores and overpriced restaurants does not serve the University. To solve this problem, Emory should buy the property and push stores to accept Dooley Dollars and tailor their offers to students. In turn, Emory should support them through crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the university environment. Such development is crucial to the quality of life of the student body. Emory has a responsibility to improve the student experience and campus environment, and that means buying Emory Village.
William Wainwright (25C) is from Atlanta, Georgia.