Because of the mandatory meal plan, fewer students use the previously popular Tiger Club account.
The Tiger Club account is a fund separate from the required meal plan, allowing participants to use their TigerCard at on-campus restaurants and more than 47 off-campus restaurants and other types of businesses such as Best Tire and CVS Pharmacy.
Joshua Wong, assistant manager of Shogun Japanese Steakhouse, a local hibachi grill on Opelika Road, said he thinks the restaurant’s revenues have been negatively affected by the decreased number of Tiger Club account holders.
“In many ways the TigerCards really helped business,” Wong said. “You would see a dozen of those cards every week. Now you almost never see them.”
Wong said business is steady, but the absence of Tiger Club diners is something that was hard for him to overlook.
Chili’s on Opelika Road has also felt the effect of the transition to the required meal plan.
“We used to get 6–10 of those cards a day, if not more,” said Eric Wilson, general manager. “Now we maybe have six people a week, and sometimes we don’t have any.”
Wilson said business had definitely gone down because of both the economy and the loss of Tiger Club business.
“The TigerCards were something we had to balance every day,” Wilson said. “So we can tell less people are buying them.”
Wilson said students have tried to use their required meal plan at Chili’s.
Panera Bread, one of the businesses farthest away from campus that still accepts the Tiger Club account, has different problems.
“People didn’t know they could use it here because we’re so far away,” said employee Rachel Hall. “We had to put out the (TigerCard) sign to let them know they could, but hardly anyone uses it anymore.”
Some students prefer the Tiger Club account rather than the mandatory meal plan.
“I love Bizilia’s sandwiches,” said Mark Jacobs, freshman in history. “I hate that I feel obligated to go to Au Bon Pain because I have to spend almost $1,000 a semester.”
On-campus residents are required to purchase a $995 meal plan, and students living off campus must purchase a $300 plan.
The amount is automatically applied at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters, and any funds remaining on the card at the end of the summer semester are lost.
“I get sick of the locations available,” said Michelle Daniels, sophomore in English. “Sure, we have a lot of options, but sometimes I want to eat at Mellow or Chili’s without feeling like I’m wasting money.”
The required meal plan has 24 on-campus locations available. Each location is also accepted under the Tiger Club account.
“I think an ideal fix is to merge the two accounts,” Jacobs said. “Yes, some of the money is going to restaurants that are off campus, but a great majority is probably still going to be kept on campus, and it will help stimulate Auburn’s economy.”