Mendes to campaign for M&G Dollars

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ASASUD President Tania Mendes hopes to convince restaurants to accept Maroon and Gold Dollars by staging an "M&G Walkout" to demonstrate how many new customers businesses could receive. (Salvador Rodriguez/DD)

ASASUD President Tania Mendes said she will run a campaign later this month to get eateries around the Downtown campus to accept Maroon and Gold Dollars on Thursday.

Mendes said she will collect signatures from March 23 through 25 to show restaurants how much students want them to accept M&G Dollars and then conduct an “M&G Walkout” the following day ⎯ where students will go to nearby restaurants, attempt to order with M&G Dollars and walkout.

“We really want to show them how much business they’re losing by walking out,” she said.

Mendes said she plans to meet with business leaders of Crave Sandwich Cafe, El Portal, Hsin, Sbarros and Subway on March 26 in hopes of having those restaurants signed on to accept M&G Dollars by the time the meeting ends.

Currently, Domino’s Pizza on North Central Avenue and East Thomas Road is the only non-ASU affiliated restaurant that accepts M&G Dollars on the Downtown campus, Mendes said.

“If we put a lot of pressure on them and we’re able to show them the signatures, that’s something that the managers of Sbarros (and Subway) can go back to their corporate people and say, ‘Look how many signatures they got. This is something that our consumers are really, really demanding,’” she said.

For restaurants to accept M&G Dollars they need to buy a machine that allows them to accept the type of payment, they pay Aramark a percent of every transaction and they must also pay Aramark a monthly fee for using the program.

Mendes said she wants to work with Aramark to possibly give downtown eateries a different “plan” than the one Tempe restaurants use to accept M&G Dollars in an effort to have more Phoenix businesses use the program.

“Many of these businesses are intimidated by paying right off the bat because they don’t know if it’s going to be a success or a failure,” she said. “Once they start seeing success out of the M&G program, I think that they’re more apt to keep the M&G program.”

Mendes said she would like for Aramark to let downtown restaurants use the M&G program without paying fees for two months. If an eatery likes the program, they could choose to keep it and begin paying Aramark the normal fees.

“I think it’s just a matter of testing it out and seeing how successful it is,” she said.

Earl Wilcox, the owner of El Portal, located at the Walter Cronkite School, said he thinks Mendes’ campaign is a good thing. He said his restaurant has been trying to implement the M&G Dollars program since it opened in spring 2009.

“I don’t have any problem accepting any kind of card,” he said. “We welcome it.”

Aramark, who could not be reached for comment on this story, previously told the Downtown Devil on Feb. 1 that they have made several unsuccessful proposals to merchants on the Downtown campus to implement the M&G Dollars program.

“To date, all of the merchants have declined to participate in the program,” said Karen Cutler, director of communications for Aramark, in an e-mail. “ASU/Aramark will continue to work with the merchants over the spring/summer.”

However, Derek Vigil, the manager of El Portal and has been working to get the M&G Dollars program for the eatery, said no one from Aramark ever tried to contact him about the program until last month, when he first got word of Mendes’ campaign.

“Just getting to Aramark is a challenge in itself,” said Vigil, who will be meeting with someone from Aramark about M&G Dollars on Monday.

For now, Vigil said El Portal does take M&G Dollars unofficially. He said when a customer asks to pay with M&G Dollars, his employees have been told to take the loss of revenue rather than lose the customer. Vigil said his restaurant loses about $100 a month this way.

“It’s worth it though just to keep them coming back,” he said.

Contact the reporter at salvador.rodriguez@asu.edu

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