SHARE
Wiki­media Commons

The nearest Chipotle fran­chise is about a 45-minute drive to Adrian, Michigan, and it won’t be getting any closer.

Leading up to ren­o­vating the Roche Sports Complex in 2014, Hillsdale College reached out to several fast-food busi­nesses, including Chipotle, to inquire about opening a location on campus. Because of the rural com­munity, however, the restau­rants declined the oppor­tunity, Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé said. The com­munity does not have enough traffic, they said.

Surplus funds from Student Fed­er­ation would have matched grants for the project, as a part of the upgrades to the sports complex. When fran­chises declined, the admin­is­tration drew up alter­native plans with Student Fed for other food options that have yet to be imple­mented.

“A few years ago, I pro­posed to Student Fed­er­ation that they help with funding the second phase: the new arena entry and smoothie bar,” Péwé said. “We were thinking about a smoothie bar or coffee shop arrangement where you could get a snack.”

The cost for a new entry and smoothie bar, however, is nearly $400,000. Lacking the capital, Student Fed gave its surplus funds to Mossey Library for new fur­niture.

“The smoothie bar was con­ceived as a way to create another social hub, but the phase one ren­o­va­tions have cer­tainly gone a long way to bringing many more stu­dents down to the complex, which was the goal,” Péwé said.

The addition of a smoothie bar or coffee shop is no longer a pri­ority, since other ren­o­va­tions, including upgrades to the workout facil­ities, suc­ceeded in attracting more stu­dents to the sports complex, Péwé said. Other pri­or­ities — such as the addition of air-con­di­tioning in the arena, ren­o­va­tions in locker rooms, and replacing the football field turf — are taking prece­dence, for now.

“We have not felt an urgency to pursue the next phase, so those plans remain dormant,” Péwé said.

Bon Appétit, A.J.’s Café, and Jitters Coffee Cart remain the only on-campus sites to grab a bite to eat. Ren­o­vation plans to the Knorr Student Center, however, do include the addition of another café and a pub.

Mary Wolfram, director of the city of Hillsdale’s eco­nomic devel­opment, said fran­chises rarely take interest in opening new stores in Hillsdale because of factors like pop­u­lation size, traffic count, and median family incomes.

“If you’re not on a freeway, some­times they won’t con­sider you at all,” Wolfram said.

Hillsdale County has a pop­u­lation size of more than 46,000 and is pre­dom­i­nantly rural. Annual average daily traffic counts of 14,800 vehicles along Car­leton Road in the city of Hillsdale, according to the Michigan Department of Trans­portation, are low and dis­suade most fran­chises from opening busi­nesses in the area.

“Each fran­chise has a certain set of metrics in which they function,” Wolfram said. “There’s a cookie-cutter model that they use to open up.”

Senior Eric LaRose, an eco­nomics major, expressed dis­ap­pointment with the lack of interest from food fran­chises to diversify in the com­munity.

“I think it would a very good thing if more fran­chises came to Hillsdale, not nec­es­sarily on campus, but at least to the town,” LaRose said. “I com­pletely get why it doesn’t make eco­nomic sense for Chipotle and similar fran­chises to locate here, but I’m still per­sonally dis­ap­pointed they won’t come.”

  • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

    Look no further than there being no Star­bucks in town. There are places that you can see the next Star­bucks from the doorway of the one you are cur­rently in. If they won’t try, no national brands will. The only newish looking chain is McD, and it was in the new location when I got to town, so I have no idea when it was built, but the rest of the chains in town have 80’s look buildings to them. I’d not seen a Arby’s or Wendy’s in that building model in forever.

  • Camus53

    Maybe it has more to do with the Roche name!