Laurentian gets Starbucks instead of local coffee shop

The opening of a new Starbucks on Laurentian University's campus is raising the question of large-scale versus local.

University's food services provider opts to go with international coffee chain

Laurentian University's seventh coffee location will open today. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

The opening of a new Starbucks on Laurentian University's campus is raising the question of large-scale versus local.

The American coffee giant is opening in the school’s high-traffic library rotunda area, but it's not the only coffee company that was interested in the space. The co-owner of local coffee shop Old Rock, said she's disappointed the new campus coffee location was not filled by a local business.

"At one point Aramark had approached us to open a coffee shop and, after a couple of months, I [understand] that fell through or they weren't interested anymore," Carole Roy said.

Aramark is the Canadian company that oversees food services at a number of university campuses across the country, including Laurentian.

Old Rock, which has two locations in the city's downtown core, does have a presence on campus. Its locally-roasted and custom-blended blended coffee beans are sold through the Fair Trade Coffee Club, which is run by the student association.

Opportunities for local business ahead

Laurentian University officials said the new Starbucks will cost the university just under $500,000 in franchise fees and renovations. This will be the campus's seventh location where one can buy coffee.

Old Rock wasn't considered for the library location because of the university's partnership with Aramark, according to Carol McAulay, the vice president of administration at the university.

"The reason is because we're working with our partner and they bring to the table the franchises they can access," she said.

McAulay said, in the future a local business like Old Rock could approach Aramark about franchise opportunities.

She noted the new Starbucks is part of the university's $2 million commitment to upgrade food services on the campus. There are opportunities for local businesses to open on campus, she added.

"One is that local businesses approach Aramark or Chartwells or those others who are big public institution food services partners and indicate that they'd be interested in being partners and be put on the roster, I suppose," McAulay said.

McAulay said Aramark's contract is up for renewal in 2016, at which point the university can consider a policy that stipulates a certain percentage of the food offered on campus be local.