Food for Thought - George's Bistro Survey Results

by Archana Rao, Radhika Kanuga & Akansha Jain

Do you often wonder what you will have for dinner before or after learning team on a weekday? Do you want to eat more than just energy bars during exams? Craving for midnight snacks during late weekend study sessions?
With the whopping success of George’s diner serving durable snacks during exams, the EMDC club wanted to see if Darden was ready to take food to the next level. Were students ready to commit to eating “real” food?
 What better way to find out than send out a market survey and put our newly acquired marketing analysis skills to good use! A big shout out to all of the 118 students who took the survey we sent out in the FY sections. It really shows us why how committed students are about bringing about a real change in the status quo!
The survey results not only reaffirmed some of our intuition, but also pleasantly shattered some of it.

Choice of food items:

  1. We weren’t surprised given all the marathon runners and fitness freaks that Darden proudly houses, that the healthy local meals (70%), sandwiches (59%) and fruit bowls (54%) would be the most in demand at the bistro.
  2. Pizza turned out to be the least demanded food item with only 26%. (It could simply be the side effect of all the free pizza at club events!)
  3. Desserts came in a close penultimate, all of you with a sweet tooth out there, we hear you! 
  4. It was also interesting to see that 53% of the students wanted the option of all day snacks at the Bistro.

Operation times:

  • Not surprisingly a 24 hours service during exam time was the most preferred. (56 responses) 
  • A weekday dinner service was also something that stood out for us in terms of students not wanting to worry about cooking at home or even worse skipping meals after learning team. (35 responses) 
  • There were 25 students who wanted the service on weekends with 14 wanting lunch only and 9 wanting dinner. 
  • 4 out of the 118 responses didn’t want the diner operating at all.

On my honor: 

  • Finally it was encouraging to see that 45 students believed that the bistro could totally work with the honor payment system and 52 weren’t sure if it would but were willing to give it a shot. 
  •  The UVA honor code committee would be pleased to learn that not a single person felt that it was an impossible expectation to have! So kudos to the Darden community for having good faith.

It was extremely useful to learn about what students really want at Darden. The key takeaways for us from the survey were the following: 

  1. Students WANT a service that would solve their food problems. 
  2. Students feel that the honor payment system for food items with higher price points CAN WORK.
  3. Students are willing to encourage this initiative!
With the energetic response from students we are excited to move to the next phase! As the next steps, we are working with the key stakeholders to run a pilot project during the FY exam period. If all goes well, we one day hope to provide fresh & fabulous real food during those late night LT meetings and midnight study sessions! Bon Appetite!


Archana Rao is a first year student at Darden. She co-founded Mentor Me India, a non-profit organization that facilitates mentorship for adolescent girls in Mumbai slums. As a Teach for India fellow, she championed numerous community & school transformation projects, empowering single parent homes and increasing student achievement. She also worked as a project management consultant and corporate sustainability champion at HSBC India. She loves cartooning on Post-its and blogging.

Radhika is a First Year at the Darden School of Business. Before Darden, she was a Project Manager at Barclays Investment Bank in Singapore. Over the course of her eight years in Singapore, Radhika travelled across South-east Asia and understood how necessary it is for intellectual capital to be diverted towards developing these high-potential economies. She spent some time teaching Pilipino migrant workers how to develop and run small businesses, something she hopes to do on a much larger scale, following some years in management consulting. 

Akansha Jain is a first-year MBA student at the Darden Graduate School of Business. Having stayed in India and worked in the local industry, she recognizes the immense scope of development besides the challenges in emerging markets. She hopes to leverage her background combined with wealth of resources at Darden to learn more about them. She hopes to pursue activities outside of class that add value to the Darden experience for her peers.

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