DDS delivery faces losses, shutdown

by Devin Foxall | 11/20/02 6:00am

Dartmouth Dining Service's money-losing delivery program will be canceled after only one full term unless more students begin to use the service during the remaining weeks of the Fall term.

DDS administrators and student managers of the program will decide at the end of the term whether to continue the delivery service into the winter, Assistant Director of Dining Services David Newlove said.

"It has to be able to stand on its own," he said, explaining the criteria for sustaining the program. "It has to do better than break even."

The program has lost $2,000 during Fall term. While some of that went toward initial startup costs -- mostly staff training -- the program has not been profitable since then. On average, the program currently loses $150 a night, Newlove said.

After making its debut Summer term, the delivery service reopened on Oct. 20. Since then, the program has operated Sunday through Wednesday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Newlove could not say what the program's chances are for survival, but the program will have to show an improvement in the few remaining weeks of the term in order to have a good chance of operating after winter break. A positive trend could include losing progressively less money, he said.

The decision will be made by DDS Director Tucker Rossiter, Newlove and the delivery service's student managers, Tim Zeitler '03 and Diana Thai '04.

Newlove said that the program would not be cancelled hastily, as the student founders and managers put a large amount of effort into the program.

"We want to give it a fair shake," he said. "This decision will not be made lightly."

Cutting aspects of the program, such as reducing the time of operation, rather than canceling it outright is another option that will be considered, Newlove said.

Students contacted by The Dartmouth all said they hoped the program would continue. But about half of the people initially said they had not heard of the delivery service, but they then remembered it after being reminded of mass emails that were sent out advertising the program.

Those that had tried it said they were pleased with the service -- it was quick, the food was hot, and it was convenient -- but they offered a few complaints. The most popular lament was the limited selection available for delivery and the fact that they had to tip the deliverers in cash.

"Most of my money is on my card," Mike Casey '03 said, explaining he saves his cash for businesses off campus.

Other complaints illuminated human particulars that no delivery service could solve. "I like to look at the menu and see the food when I order," Tashi Dondup '03 said after ordering a steak and cheese sandwich in Food Court. "It's weird, because I order the same thing every time."