AVON PARK – For 46 years, the standard hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, sandwiches and a variety of lunch dishes have been served to hungry students.
But, for the first time, South Florida State College is opening its doors to a food franchise and new culinary neighbor: Subway.
Within three weeks, the SFSC Subway should be open to students, staff, administration and visitors to the college grounds, said Glenn Little, SFSC vice-president for administrative services.
Walking around the college’s cafeteria Friday, Little hopes the approximately 5,000 full-time students and school staff would relish the chance to have two food service options on campus.
He said over the past three to four years, he has personally heard students asking about other campus eating options and some have even inquired about the possibility of a food court someday.
Little said in May, he was asked by Lew Carter, Subway franchise owner in Highlands County, about getting a restaurant on campus. He said the school is currently going through the leasing process for the franchise and has been receiving restaurant equipment over the past two weeks.
“I am excited about Subway here and very encouraged that he (Carter) was interested,” said Little, who has been on the staff at the school since 1986. “Everyone is excited about a franchise operation here; it gives our students another option for dining. We’re providing options for out students.”
As he entered the Subway site next to the Kelly’s Korner school cafe in the rear of the school, Little pointed out the layout of the approximately 550-square-foot deli. He said based on Subways on other college campuses, he’s confident there would be enough student traffic to warrant its presence and doesn’t foresee significant financial gain for the college, saying the lease agreement “covers costs for utilities” and “provides for expenditures.”
According to the website Franchisechatter, the initial franchise fee for a Subway in 2013 was $15,000.
Another incentive for SFSC to bring the Subway on board is to help keep students on campus to take advantage of educational and counseling services available to them. Little said by having the Subway there, they wouldn’t be as tempted to drive off-campus to get their franchise food fix.
“We like to keep students on campus because it gets them more engaged into campus life,” he said.
Carter opened his first Subway in DeSoto Square, 3212 S. U.S. 27, in 1985 and most recent one in the Avon Park Wal-Mart in 2008. Other locations are in north Avon Park and Lake Placid.
Carter said a Subway and fast-food restaurant recent trend is to expand into “non-traditional” locations, like schools, colleges, hospitals, corporate centers and sports venues. He said the Subway corporation, based in Milford, Conn., encourages franchisees to open in those types of locales.
“We’re glad to be there (SFSC) because the demographic there, the 15- to 30-year-olds. They try to eat healthier and are more conscious of leading healthy lifestyles,” he said.
To get the SFSC site up and running, Carter said employees and management staff from Avon Park would be initially operating the store and he plans to hire some students in the future.
The SFSC Subway will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, and closed weekends and its anticipated opening would be welcomed, said SFSC students Danai Shreeves and Heather Hinkle, both 17.
As they ate brunch in the cafeteria Friday, the two GED students from Sebring said although they enjoyed the cafeteria, the Subway would bring more options to the table.
“This will give us more variety with more healthy choices,” said Shreeves of Sebring. “I think they will appreciate having more food choices than just the cafe.”