Managing the midnight munchies

One year ago, sophomore finance major Mike Smith would come back to campus after working in Manhattan at around 8:30 p.m. – just as Montgoris Dining Hall would close.

This frustrating experience convinced Smith that a late-night dining service should exist on campus and now, a year later, he is providing such a service to students with “The Munchies Menu.”

Smith and a few friends launched the business venture in late September and have been providing late-night cookies, sandwiches, and other snacks to students in O’Connor Hall and the Townhouses ever since. This week, Smith plans on expanding his operation to more dorms.

According to Smith, all of the food ordered off “The Munchies Menu” is cooked fresh on campus and delivered shortly after.

Smith buys Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough in order to provide freshly-baked cookies of many varieties, including oatmeal, raisin, chocolate chip, brownie chunk, sugar, and chewy ginger. And he delivers Smith’s parents own a catering company in Chicago so, he said, he has experience with both cooking and the food industry.

“I saw that other groups were selling late-night dining services to students at other schools, like University of Illinois and NYU,” Smith said.

Smith added that his service had four orders during its first night. The second, it had 10 and the next week jumped to as many as 40 in one day.

“Our startup cost was very low, so we’ve made it back after the second week. It made me think of expanding our operation.”

“The Munchies Menu,” Smith said, is mostly about giving students the late-night dining they crave, though, he admitted, he also hopes to turn a slight profit.

“Obviously, making money is the goal,” he said. “I come from a low-income family in Chicago, so I’ve always had a passion for making money. I’ve seen what it’s like to live with money and without it.”

Smith said that he plans on having at least one person to deliver in each dorm sometime soon, and even is planning on launching some new products, such as breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles.

“We’re open to suggestions,” he said. “Every week we’re going to try something new, and if it sells well, we’ll continue with it. This week’s will be brownies.”

Senior Andrew Mozer was one of the Munchie Menu’s first customers, and was happy with the service.

“It’s awesome, because you can get food whenever,” Mozer said. “Marillac closes at around 11:00 p.m., and it’s far away, and this dude delivers.”

Mozer’s favorite Munchie Menu snack is the “brownie chunk big boy cookie,” though he said he is looking forward to trying some new items in the near future.

“I want that peanut butter and fluff!” Mozer said. “The other sandwiches sound pretty good, too.”

Smith and his co-workers are hopeful that the Munchies Menu will grow as the semester continues, though he said the business aspect of the operation is not his top priority.

“It is a great way to network,” Smith said, “and a great way to meet some very interesting people.”