Cumberland Avenue restaurants wanting to accept UT meal plan cas

Cumberland Avenue restaurants wanting to accept UT meal plan cash

Posted:
The University of Tennessee is preparing to roll out changes to a program letting students use their meal plan on the Cumberland Avenue strip. The University of Tennessee is preparing to roll out changes to a program letting students use their meal plan on the Cumberland Avenue strip.
The issue at hand is a 17,000 square feet project near 17th Street and Cumberland Avenue. The building will have a total of three new restaurants where UT students can grab a bite. Instead of cash, they can use Vol Card Dollars. The issue at hand is a 17,000 square feet project near 17th Street and Cumberland Avenue. The building will have a total of three new restaurants where UT students can grab a bite. Instead of cash, they can use Vol Card Dollars.
For places like Gyrene Burger on the strip, it's a bit intimidating. For places like Gyrene Burger on the strip, it's a bit intimidating.
Students say they simply want the freedom to eat where they want. Students say they simply want the freedom to eat where they want.
By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The University of Tennessee is preparing to roll out changes to a program letting students use their meal plan on the Cumberland Avenue strip. That basic idea has support from restaurants, but we're also hearing concerns that it will give some places an advantage over the rest.

The issue at hand is a 17,000 square feet project near 17th Street and Cumberland Avenue. The building will have a total of three new restaurants where UT students can grab a bite. Instead of cash, they can use Vol Card Dollars.

For places like Gyrene Burger on the strip, it's a bit intimidating. 

"Honestly I can't really compete with that," said owner Rob Wynkoop.

That's why places like Gyrene Burger, Copper Cellar and Tin Roof, just to name a few, are trying to level the playing field, hoping every restaurant on Cumberland Avenue can soon accept this unique payment.

"Some students just don't have cash-money and they can't really eat at our restaurant, but they have plenty of excess dollars on their Vol Card. If we were able to accept that, then we could serve more students," added Wynkoop.

UT is in talks with merchants on Cumberland Avenue about developing a program to allow students to use their Vol Card Dollars for meals with the goal to start that by next fall. Restaurants think this will put them at a disadvantage until then.

"We need to draw as many students as we can because that's how we survive. Our business is students," said Emad Aljaber, owner of Niro's Gyros.

Students say they simply want the freedom to eat where they want.

"If students could go to the strip and have more options, I think they'd be more willing and more accepting of the new implemented meal plan that everyone has to have," said UT Senior Katie Wattenbarger.

"If I'm here and I've got my Vol Card with me, you won't have to travel all the way over there to eat," said incoming UT Freshman Jaelin Simon.

Waiting for answers is time these restaurants don't want to lose. "We are part of UT and we don't want UT to push us out," said Aljaber.

The university says the reason it will take some time to come to an agreement and implement a system for restaurants is because they'll be using a vendor, which UT is required to accept bids for.

Beginning in the Fall of 2015, all first year undergraduates living on campus will be required to have a meal plan. All other undergraduates who take six or more credit hours will also be required to purchase $300 in meal plan cash each semester.

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