On Friday, Nov. 20, many hungry students walked to URMC, only to be faced with the news that both locations of the Au Bon Pain (ABP) cafe had closed their doors for good. The abrupt announcement was met with confusion.

Regarding its closure, responses from students on campus have largely been negative. “ABP was a crucial part of my campus life. It was an escape from campus food that still allowed me to use declining,” sophomore Mattison Flakus said.

A common theme among students’ responses is the negative impact its closure has on their dining options. “Students who spend most of their life in Hutch, Goergen or Carlson have very limited eating options now, because Pura Vida doesn’t have enough food to feed the whole Carlson library and students are too lazy to go to Danforth or Douglass,” sophomore Jess Occhiogrosso said. Sophomore Devon Foggio agreed, offering the opinion that its closure was “very inconvenient for those who work in the Med Center.”

Associate Vice President for Communications at the Medical Center Christopher DiFrancesco explained the situation. “The closing was the result of a mutual decision between the University and the restaurant’s operator to discontinue their business relationship.” The deciding factors were based off “a dispute about the terms of the contract between the University and Healthy Choice, the business entity operating Au Bon Pain, [and it] was resolved in November with a mutual decision to end the business relationship.”

When considering what would happen to the full and part-time employees who worked at the two ABP locations, DiFrancesco stated that the University took steps to ensure that the workers “would be placed in other positions within the University.” In the case of workers who worked directly for Healthy Choice, they were offered opportunities to apply for different positions within the University.

Although ABP’s closure came as a shock to students and other customers, it was not so unexpected to University officials, as the dispute occurred over a period of several months. “The decision had the unanimous support of appropriate University and Medical Center leadership,” DiFrancesco said. Despite students’ disappointment, they remain “confident that the decision was in the best interests of all.”

Though disheartened by ABP’s departure, students are already looking to the future of those spaces. Sophomore Devin Marino said he hopes that “they replace both the ABP’s with two different restaurants,” adding that “it seems strange to have two of the same cafes in the Med Center, instead of using those spaces to allow more variety in the food options.”

According to DiFrancesco, the URMC already has ideas for the future of those spaces. “We’re currently working on plans to open a high-end cafe in the space vacated by Au Bon Pain,” he explained. “We’re also working on plans to convert the [Medical Research Building] location into a very comfortable, sit-down coffee venue.” He finished by saying that they were “eager to make a formal announcement about both locations,” and that students should expect more information in the near future.

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