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ND Au Bon Pain wins ‘Franchisee of the Year’ Award

| Thursday, October 30, 2014

Notre Dame’s Au Bon Pain (ABP) beat over 300 other stores this September to win Franchisee of the Year, an award that recognizes the ABP franchise with the greatest sales growth and operations quality, according to an October press release.

Director of Food Services Chris Abayasinghe said the store’s second year sales growth set it apart from its competitors, which included both national and international franchises.

“The first year, whenever you open up a restaurant, you obviously have high levels of sales because everyone’s excited about what’s going on,” Abayasinghe said. “The second year is the real litmus test on how successful the brand has been.”

Associate Director of Retail Food Service Operations Mark King said although sales growth was crucial, it was not the Notre Dame franchise’s only distinguishing factor.

“When ABP looks at us for such an award, they look at the total of what’s taken place,” he said. “Sales is a part of [the award selection], and it’s a big part of it, but they’re also looking at how you’re incorporating it into … the portfolio that we have here. And it’s been a real strong performer for us.”

Abayasinghe said the store’s location in Hesburgh Library is also part of its appeal.

“Here’s a really interesting tidbit: the campus draws about 2.5 million visitors annually,” he said. “The Hesburgh Library draws about a million of those in that door. … You come to visit the University of Notre Dame for its great athletic program or what have you, you’re also visiting it for the library.”

The store’s healthy dining options and convenience have made it a good fit with Notre Dame students, Abayasinghe said. Sophomore Dana Deradoorian said she loves ABP because she believes “it’s the best quality food on campus.” The store is also convenient, sophomore Madeline Lewis said.

“Whenever I need a snack and I’m studying, my first thought is to go to ABP,” Lewis said. “Because it’ll be fresher and tastier and I don’t have to worry about going at a dining hall meal time – I can just go.”

Due to increased demand from students, Food Services has expanded ABP’s reach on campus to include a coffee cart in DeBartolo Hall and an Au Bon Pain Express in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. Abayasinghe said a catering service for students will be the next expansion.

“What we’re extremely excited about is us being able to do a catering version on campus. … We really want us to be able to leverage the brand for us to be able to meet the needs that are currently going off campus,” he said.

“This is really about us taking what’s worked successfully, that has a good program, and being able to implement it.”

In the end, it was teamwork that really distinguished Notre Dame’s franchise, King said.

“I’m just real proud of the people who work over there,” he said. “They’ve done a great job. Even from the conception to now … construction time was six weeks from start to finish — that just doesn’t happen. … It took the Architect’s Office, it took the Library, it took Food Services, it took IT – there was a huge core group that got together and pulled this off.

“What ABP sees is how we really operate as a team. And we get results.”

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