As of the Fall 2017 semester, the Salsarita’s on campus began increasing prices for certain food items such as beans and rice, which now cost an extra dollar each when added to nachos and quesadillas.
Salsarita’s — a Tex-Mex food chain — can be found in The Commons along Market Street. Customers can order burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, tacos or nachos, and then choose additional ingredients to fill it with, ranging from various meats to salsa and cheese. Many ingredients are included in the price of the menu item, but some, such as queso (cheese sauce) and guacamole cost extra. Prior to this semester, rice and beans were included in the price of burritos and bowls, as well as nachos and quesadillas, the latter of which is included in a “meal deal” offered to students who have purchased meal plans.
Word of the recent price hikes quickly spread among the students. In a popular post on one of the MyUMBC discussion boards, one student lamented the apparent “nickel and diming,” noting that the increased prices amounted to “around a 25% increase in price for the same items we got last semester.” Other students also conveyed similar dissatisfaction in the comments section.
Talk of the price increases was common around campus as well. Daniel Peña, a sophomore business technology administration major, frequents Salsarita’s and stated that he thought the extra charges for the rice and beans were “excessive,” while also mentioning, “then again, the nachos are $8 — what do people expect?”
Tom DeLuca, UMBC’s Resident District Manager for Chartwells — the food-service provider for the school — addressed these circumstances in the comments of the MyUMBC post. He wrote, “In the spring, the Salsarita’s representative was here to do their routine check on us and noticed that we weren’t charging extra for rice and beans on certain items. It is Salsarita’s policy to do so, and we, as a franchisee, are obligated to follow their pricing structure.”
There were other areas of concern as well. For example, Salsarita’s menu does not explicitly mention which ingredients are included or not included with each menu item. This made the price increases not immediately apparent to students, surprising many.
To address this situation and possible future grievances, DeLuca stated, “We are working on a way to clearly communicate to you what is and isn’t included on all items, as they are different for each menu item.” He adds, “We hope to have a communication piece up at the station in The Commons soon so there is less confusion about the policies, and so our customers know exactly how much everything is before ordering.”
However, a Chartwells representative contradicted Deluca.
Kelly O’Dell, Director of Marketing for Salsarita’s, said, “Technically rice and beans are not considered typical items in a quesadilla (or salads even), but most locations allow guests to get whatever they would like. Sounds like this location was one that enforced that “policy.”
In the meantime, students and customers can voice their concerns through the Guest Feedback section of Salsarita’s website.