Coop Fountain debuts weekend delivery program to address deficit issue

A TV monitor displays an image the reads "The Coop Fountain Now Delivers."
The Coop Fountain debuted its food delivery service last weekend. It’s available to all 5C students and runs from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

As Claremont nights grow chillier, the Coop Fountain is offering a new solution for students’ late-night grub needs.

The Coop’s food delivery service, which is available to all 5C students, debuted last weekend, according to Devin Mercier PO ’20, one of the Coop’s general managers. It runs from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings for a $2 fee.

Students can order food through an online Formstack using Flex and Claremont Cash among other standard payment methods, Mercier said. He estimates deliveries, which come by golf cart, should take about 20 minutes.

Mercier spearheaded the delivery initiative as a “side project,” he said, in an effort to help reverse the Coop’s deficit issue.

ASPC director of operations Samuel Lin PO ’20, who’s tasked with evaluating and improving ASPC services, said the Coop “started facing deficit issues as early as 10 years ago” due to a variety of problems, many structural.

“We aren’t able to take meal swipes, students are eating in the dining halls more than ever for the meals and the cost of labor and goods is only increasing,” Lin explained via message.

Mercier said he doesn’t think the delivery service will necessarily be the solution to the Coop’s finance problems, but thinks it could make the eatery more appealing to students. 

He said last weekend’s orders “exceeded the Coop’s expectations by far,” around 20 orders on Friday and 15 on Saturday. It surpassed its minimum goal of outearning wage fees for the student delivery person and the costs of purchasing cup holders last weekend.

The service’s potential growth will depend on student reception, but Mercier is hopeful it will grow as advertising expands, word of mouth spreads, temperatures fall and the new semester resets Flex balances. The Coop is training more employees to perform deliveries in anticipation of this growth and may change or expand its delivery hours.

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The service’s current hours were developed from a survey of about 300 5C students’ preferences distributed before the service’s inception.

Mercier formerly co-founded the now-defunct delivery business B-Line, alongside Patricia Calderón PO ’21, a spring 2018 semester-long project that delivered students food from the Coop and local businesses like Eureka!, Bua Thai Cuisine and Blaze Pizza. The business did not receive many orders, so it lost money on wages, which Mercier and Calderón subsidized out of pocket.

Mercier said the Coop delivery business is sustainable because it is aided by a restricted schedule, institutional support from ASPC and a centralized system through the Coop Fountain.

Breakfast burritos, always a late-night Coop favorite according to Mercier, have been the most popular delivery order despite the service’s hours.

“The delivery initiative is just one of many that we’re currently in the process of developing and implementing in order to address the deficit issue,” Lin said. “And we do anticipate that it will make an impact, although at this point it’s difficult to quantify its immediate effects.”

Yasmin Elqutami contributed reporting.

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