To us Case Western Reserve University students, setting up shop near a college seems like a prudent plan for business.
One of the main reasons we have this perception is that as students, we know what we like; being successful next to a college seems like it would be easy, but it’s not. Local managers and owners experience a lot more difficulty finding the meat. The Editorial Board is not asking businesses to cater to students, nor saying that they answer to us—that would be inappropriate. The Board is hoping to offer some friendly insight into the mind of a CWRU student to help new businesses thrive, older ones to grow and most importantly, make it easier for new ones to join our growing community. Here are our tips to gain popularity with CWRU students:
#1 Stay open late
Whether it’s staying up late studying on a weekday or staying up late on a weekend because, well, they studied all day, students are hungry at night. Staying open until midnight is a surefire way to attract students. At CWRU students are often busy, and obtaining a dinner may be low on their priority list of things to do. As a business, it’s hard to stay up late because of the complexities of having a full-time staff present that late. Note that dining halls close at 8 p.m. and the late night on-campus option for many students, L3, closes at 10 p.m. The only main competitors after that time are Rascal House Pizza and Denny’s All Nighter, which are consistently packed on weekends late at night. The Board believes staying open late is key to attract a CWRU student customer base.
#2 This is only Uptown
When it comes to business, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. However a low-price menu is key to getting through to us students. For at least their first two years at CWRU, students are on an expensive meal plan. Paying for food outside this plan doesn’t seem financially sound. Even for upperclassmen not on a plan, the food budget doesn’t equate to a large ice cream vat. Students may love treating themselves to Mitchell’s on occasion, but for a restaurant, expensive meals may not sell well. It may seem silly to analyze this so thoroughly, but we feel that students often look at the value of a meal, not simply compare prices without context. Chipotle Mexican Grill may be on the upper end of a CWRU student’s budget, but is considered to be good value, as seen by it often being busy.
#3 Be different
Be clever. You can make a meal out of many things: Those looking to open up a generic food place may want to reconsider. With various grills such as Qdoba and Chipotle Mexican Grills, and sandwich places Jimmy Johns, Subway and now Potbelly Sandwich Shop, opening another of either might be biting off more than you can chew. Realistically the best way to appear cool as a cucumber is to bring something new to the table. Kenko, which customizes and rolls sushi in front of you and within the restaurant and sells bubble tea from Kung Fu Tea, is the perfect example. Both portions were an instant hit among CWRU students. That is not to say that you can’t open up a sandwich shop or a grill, but if you want to cook up a storm among us CWRU students, try creating a unique identity.
Running a business isn’t as easy as following the often-strange schedules of college students and their every desire, but businesses that are successful in Uptown Cleveland are successful with the student demographic and active listeners to the community around them.The editorial board hopes that businesses can thrive in Uptown and benefit from a student population, as much as the CWRU student population can benefit from their services.