Who says you can’t eat like a regular person when you’re in college?
Sure, your money is often tied up in tuition, textbooks and extra curricular activities, but that doesn’t mean you have to survive on Ramen, Easy Mac and stacks of 24-pack Gatorade. It’s possible to get away from the stress of school and enjoy a meal out. Area students offer tips on how they manage to eat out on a college budget. Business owners Brian Urbanis, of Bart & Urby’s in Wilkes-Barre, and Bobby Gehler, of Coconut Summer Grill in Scranton, share specials they gear specifically toward students. And then there’s some nice discounts, too.
‘YOU MIGHT AS WELL GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT’
Mike Kapolka, of Dallas, is a “super senior” at Wilkes University. He’s been attending a four-year educational institution for at least five years and said eating out isn’t generally an affordable habit for him. He prefers to prepare food at home to save money. When he does go out, he often finds himself at Trivia Night on Thursdays at Bart & Urby’s.
“If you’re going to spend the money and go out, you might as well get something out of it,” Kapolka said. “And sometimes they’ll have entertainment here after trivia, too. Sometimes the guy who runs the trivia, his band, The Mobile Meth Lab Explosion, will play here. So if you’re going to pay to go out, having some kind of entertainment is a plus. And trivia gives students a chance to win prizes. The prizes are worth it.”
Prizes include free appetizers, food and cash up to $50.
Vince Insalaco, an adjunct music professor at Wilkes University, has been running Trivia Night for four years. Sometimes Insalaco will even buy the winning team a round of shots or a pitcher of beer. If you’re on a college budget, free food and drinks is never a bad thing.
Urbanis says he wants his business to be affordable for college students because they’re the base of his business.
“Students have a lot going on,” Urbanis said. “They have a lot to balance and it can be stressful for them. I want them to have a place where they can get away from any weight on their shoulders and have a good time and feel safe, feel like they’re at home.”
To help make it easier for students to afford to eat at his establishment, Urbanis offers a 10 percent discount to any patron showing a valid college ID.
COLLEGE STUDENTS, THE REAL VIP
Gehler says he remembers what it was like being a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey and having only a five spot in his pocket for the day.
“Here at Coconut Summer Grill, you can come in with five bucks and fill your stomach,” he said.
A breakfast sandwich with New Jersey’s Taylor Ham, fried egg and cheese on a panini-pressed biscuit is $3.95. “Even with a cup of coffee, it’s less than five bucks,” Gehler said. He also sells Jersey’s famous foot-long Thumann’s hot dogs for $2.75.
Also less than $5 is juice from a raw juice bar.
“Most students can’t juice in their dorm room,” Gehler said. “Here, I have a commercial juicer that makes fresh, healthy juices that taste great and keep the students healthy. Not all students have access to fresh fruits and vegetables for an affordable cost.”
Gehler moved to Scranton with his wife, Angela, in 2013 to open a frozen yogurt shop on Spruce Street.
“We moved to Adams Avenue in January of this year. People are still finding us at our new location,” he said. “Now we have good ice cream and good food.”
Gehler also offers a VIP Club Card. After 10 purchases of frozen yogurt, shakes or raw juice, the next purchase is free.
Whether you’re looking for some entertainment, a chance to win free food or a healthy meal for less than five bucks, eating out on a college budget is possible — just look around.
Reach Justin Adam Brown at 570-991-6652 or on Twitter @wkdr