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Hoot’s move will damage their revenue

By Evan Neustater     9/1/15 2:31pm

The Hoot seems to be very proud of their new move to the Rice Memorial Center, and at a cursory glance, it makes sense. The hot food will arrive in stages, preventing it from running out in under two hours, as it did far too often last year. The Hoot’s new location will help people at Pub find food, and will also nourish the night owls at Fondren.

However, it ignores the incredible convenience the Hoot represented on campus. Prior to this year, both north and south colleges had easily accessed late night food and drink in their nearby servery, but now students must factor in a much greater distance to get food. It may seem like a minor inconvenience to have to walk to the RMC for the Hoot, but I argue the new distance will discourage many students from making the trek.

When I first visited Rice during Owl Days, I thought the Hoot was the coolest thing. The college cafeteria turned into a Chick-fil-A at night, just seconds from my dorm room! Over the last two years my opinion has not changed. I cannot count the times I was doing homework in the McMurtry commons and suddenly craved a pizza or chicken sandwich. I practically went into tetra debt from the Hoot’s convenience. The greatest thing about the Hoot was its ability to incite spontaneity.

Now, the decision to go to the Hoot will be much more involved. Is the walk to the RMC worth it, especially if I have a lot of work to do? With mobile apps like Postmates and Favor allowing for food to be delivered essentially to your door, it may now become more convenient — and cheaper — to just order food from my phone. I doubt the Hoot’s move will encourage people to work and study near the RMC, since college commons are already too established for the Hoot to create that kind of culture shift.

That being said, I completely understand the Hoot’s rationale. Maintaining a profitable food reselling business at two different locations must have been extremely difficult. Without considering how the relocation of the business will affect customer behavior, the move seems to be the most viable economic option. The move will, however, discourage people from going to the Hoot. How that will affect the Hoot’s profitability remains to be seen. I think this move will hurt their sales; I see the inconvenience of the new location strongly discouraging business.

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