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Despite Starbucks, Miami promises to prioritize local

Lauren Oliver, The Miami Student

Administrators say Miami University values and supports area businesses and locally sourced foods, yet the introduction of the corporate brand Starbucks to campus has some worrying about the fate of those local goods.

Senior Ellyn Needel said she worries Miami will start to put local business on the backburner.

"If Miami wants to say they support local businesses, they should make it a priority."

Patisserie bakery, which Starbucks will replace in the spring, currently sells a variety of deserts and baked goods, but the most popular originate from Winans Fine Chocolate and Coffee in Piqua, Ohio.

Winans has several locations throughout the Dayton area, and has been a longtime vendor for the university. Miami alumna Laurie Reiser and her husband Joe are fourth generation owners of the company.

Jon Brubacher, director of food purchasing and procurement, said he understands concerns about the shift from local to corporate, but promises that Winans - along with other local vendors - will continue to be of importance to Miami.

Brubacher said all of the on-campus salad dressing is supplied from Marzetti's in Columbus, the pulled pork is from Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati and Young's Jersey Dairy provides the ice cream for the milkshakes at Miami Ice and Encounter.

Last year, the 41,000 burgers served at Encounter were made with locally raised beef from Reserve Run Farm - a longstanding partner of the university.

Drew Johnson, Miami alumnus and owner of Reserve Run Farm, said the relationship began after students at the time were dissatisfied with the food.

"There had been a lot of student requests for higher quality food, and that turned into a link to high quality local products," Johnson said. "When I approached Miami, it was like I walked through the door on the right day and we really hit it off well."

Now, four years later, Johnson said the relationship continues to strengthen, and does not see the benefit of Miami straying away from local.

"There's so many quality people and products around here that to just give all your business to a big corporation and take what they can give you would really be a disservice to the student body," Johnson said. "I can't see the reason for getting away from local business."

Brubacher said that while bigger corporations may be moving in, there are no plans to stop partnering with local business.

"Local continues and always will be a focus," Brubacher said. "We do as much local as we can, [so] please be assured that we are not moving away from local."

Due to licensing agreements, Winans Chocolate cannot be sold at the upcoming Starbucks location on campus. However, it will still be provided at other locations, including dining sites such as MacCracken Market, King Café and potentially Haines' Boulangerie.

Needel said, in the case of Winans, Miami needs to prove its commitment.

"[They] should put products such as Winans at the forefront for the consumers, rather than just mixing it in with other products at MacCracken, which can easily be overlooked," she said.

Johnson said that while those situations may arise, the university is at least offering students an alternative.

"To me, while it would be great to be prominently featured, I'm just happy to have a seat at the table," Johnson said.