Business student

The Impact of Student Customers on Marshall Street Small Businesses

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Whenever Austin Kornbluth, senior at Syracuse University, wanted something to eat, he went to the Marshall Street restaurant district and was faced with a dilemma: to submit his usual order at one of the restaurant chains. from Marshall Street or try something new at one of the small businesses across the street.

Kornbluth could choose a restaurant chain like Starbucks or Chipotle because it’s a quick and easy option for college students, he said. But the small businesses on Marshall Street offer a variety of cuisines at restaurants like Royal Indian Grill, Taste of Asia, and Winnie’s Soul Delicious. Eric Ennis, director of business development for Syracuse, said the university and its student body play a vital role for small businesses in University Hill and surrounding areas.

“Especially on a college campus, people go where they are comfortable,” Kornbluth said. “If I need a quick meal, my instinct is going to be to go get what I’ve eaten a hundred times before, and the places that are here like that are also the ones I have at home. “

But once Kornbluth started trying food in the small businesses on Marshall Street, he realized what he had been missing out on. Whether it’s Winnie’s Soul Delicious, 15 months, or Varsity, 95, Marshall Street’s small business dining options not only give customers a more nuanced experience, but keep money in the community. , Ennis said.


“Local purchases are essential,” Ennis said in an interview in April. “For every dollar, more money is kept when it is sent to a local business rather than a franchise or corporation. “

Small independent businesses report roughly double the economic returns of their chain competitors, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Ennis said that buying a local business’s products or gift cards directly from them saves more money for the business and the community than buying their products from a third party such than a grocery store.

Dawn Evette Reed, owner of Winnie’s Soul Delicious on Marshall Street, said giving back to the community is a fundamental part of her business. She frequently distributes food to the homeless and participates in community fundraisers.

“I know it’s a business, but I feel like you have to feed people sometimes to give back,” Reed said.

Small businesses on Marshall Street offer a more personalized experience and better food, Kornbluth said. When he visits a small business on Marshall Street, the elder said he can get a taste of how food is individually prepared for him rather than being mass produced. According to Reed, this is exactly what is planned.

“It’s a home cooked meal. … Some students are looking for a home cooked meal after being away from home for months and months, ”Reed said. “You come here and have a Sunday meal. “

Despite the ease of going to a familiar restaurant chain with a regular order, Kornbluth said he was pleasantly surprised when he gave small businesses a chance.

“If I was a freshman here and just needed a coffee real quick, sure, I’m going to go to Starbucks or Dunkin ‘. You go to the Kubal cafe once, and you’re like ‘Wow, this is better… and faster,’ ”Kornbluth said.

Dunkin ‘and Starbucks both have locations on Marshall Street, but Syracuse-based Cafe Kubal operated in the Marshall Square Mall for nearly a decade before Salt City Coffee, another Syracuse-based coffee company, does not take its place.

Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment, but Chipotle’s head of external communications Tyler Benson wrote in an email that more than half of Chipotle’s customers are Millennials or Gen Z, the The company is therefore looking for ways to meet the needs of college-aged students when identifying. new locations. Benson also said the company is also trying to attract students with social media marketing, particularly on TikTok.

Chipotle’s location on Marshall Street is a popular option among college students because of its familiar menu and mobile ordering options, Kornbluth said.

But according to Ennis, buying from small businesses brings value to the customer, the business owner and the community at large.

“You get (food) from a local entrepreneur who invests in the community – by investing in Syracuse. These are really the types of businesses that we want to see grow and prosper, ”said Ennis.

Alexandra Battaglia contributed additional reports to this article

Contact Connor: [email protected]

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