Ryerson cuts ties with Tim Hortons and looks to switch to all-you-can-eat meal plan

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By Annie Arnone & Jacob Dubé


Ryerson will be closing all school-run Tim Hortons locations on campus and is planning to introduce a new all-you-can-eat meal plan for students.

The university announced these changes on Thursday, adding that it will be implemented in the summer.

According to a release from Ryerson Food Services—pending Board of Governors approval at their March 29 meeting—the new meal plan will include unlimited access to food, in order to “accommodate busy student schedules, as well as seasonal menu changes.”

“What we’ve heard from students is they want something that’s affordable, so price and value is very important to them,” said Voula Cocolakis, executive director of University Business Services, referring to a survey Ryerson conducted. “We’re addressing all those needs.”

They haven’t finalized the price, but Cocolakis said it will likely cost more than the plans Ryerson currently offers. “It’s not going to be cheaper, it’s probably going to be a little higher,” Cocolakis said.

As of now, the school offers three different meal plans ranging from small to large—small being $2,740 (10 meals per-week), medium being $3,575 (13 meals per-week) and large at $3,895 (14 meals per-week).

The meal plan will also include “flex dollars,” which allow students to purchase food in Ryerson cafes including the Ram in the Rye, Oakham Cafe and Balzac’s Coffee Roasters. Otherwise, students will only be able to eat their cafeteria meals within the food courts of Pitman Hall and the International Living & Learning Centre (ILC).

“They have to eat there,” Cocolakis said. “They can spend their flex dollars and pick up something quick to go to class, but their meal plan dollars have to be spent … at Pitman or ILC.”

“I don’t think (the price increase) is fair on everyone cause some people have a relatively smaller appetite than others. I think they should keep the same prices because the prices are pretty high anyway,” said irst-year business student Muhammad Sameer Chandoo.

First-year media production students Eli Savage and Marie-Pier Surprenant said they like going to Ryerson Tim Hortons locations so they can use their meal plan money.

”What the fuck, Ryerson?” Savage said after hearing about the impending closures.

In terms of Ryerson’s relationship with Tim Hortons, the five locations on campus will be closed, and instead, the university will be offering Starbucks self-serving stations, as well as Ryerson-branded coffee shops.

This will include the closures of Tims locations in Kerr Hall and the Ted Rogers School of Management.

The Tims located within the Engineering building will become a Starbucks-self serve spot, and locations near the library bridge—as well as the Jorgenson Hall location—will turn into a Ryerson-branded full service outlet. “[Tims] is our cheapest option, so that kind of sucks. Our $1 [Tims] bagel goes away now. We’re gonna have to pay more for breakfast,” Surprenant said, adding that she hopes the shops that replace the Ryerson Tims won’t be too expensive. “If it’s $5 [for] a coffee I’m gonna be upset.”

This change comes after Tim Hortons approached the school asking for up to $300,000 in renovations for each location to fit their new branding.

“For me to say ‘I’m going to spend $300,000 per location times five locations and have no return,’ there’s no business case there for us. It doesn’t make any sense,” Cocolakis said. “Let’s step away from Tims, and let’s create our own Ryerson coffee brand here. Let’s focus on the sustainability angle, bring something local, fair trade.”

She added the school will participate in taste testings to see what kind of coffee people are looking for, as well as holding a contest to name Ryerson’s new coffee. “We’re committed to offering a very affordable price for students and our community.”

Concerns regarding job loss were addressed by Cocolakis, who stressed the school is simply “making changes within [their] operation.” The current Tims employees will be relocated to other facilities, she said.

With files from Mikayla Fasullo,  Parnika Raj and Emma Sandri


  1. This is a disturbing omen for Tim Horton franchisees facing similar massive renovation costs with no return on investment other than the opportunity to remain in business. It is necessary to remain competitive. Traditionally face-lift renovations freshen up a store and reward the operator with increased sales. Generally that no longer happens so it’s become the cost of staying in business. If Ryerson can provides a healthy, nutritious food offering at a fair price then go for it. After all, quality should be higher on the priority list than glitz. They should be in pocket if they undertake the venture themselves. Just do’t underestimate the attraction of a strong brand.

  2. “Price and value is important to students” ” its probably not going to be cheaper, but a little higher” Sure……. okay…….

  3. This is insane. Already, I was forced to buy a meal plan when I moved into residence, and I hate it. The ILC and Pitman cafeterias are alright if you just want ‘to not be hungry’, but I can (and do) cook better myself. Better yet, there are plenty of more affordable, better quality options off-campus. But guess what? The school still forced me to pay $1600 for a meal plan for the 4 months I’m here, so I’m stuck with whatever they decide for me.

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