The best part of being a Pitt student is the endless dining options available around campus — and the deals that come with them. Whether it’s late-night, half-price pizzas at The Porch or Stack’d’s half-off appetizers during weeknight happy hours, you’re sure to satisfy your hungry stomach without emptying your bank account. Yet despite all its perks, there’s one thing Oakland dining lacks — variety.
Restaurants outside Oakland aren’t limited in this way — options include specialty tea shops, quaint bakeries and ethnic food galore. But unlike Oakland restaurants, these places don’t tend to have student deals, meaning they miss out on serving a large, hungry population in their area.
Pitt students are deal savvy in the extreme — they’re the first to capitalize on new discounts at Oakland restaurants. If restaurants across Pittsburgh offered more student deals, they’d surely lure the massive student population in Pittsburgh to their doors.
It’s not like students aren’t willing to leave Oakland to go find something to eat — everyone eventually gets sick of Oakland dining after two or three years at Pitt. But students unfortunately get stuck with the same restaurants along Forbes and Fifth because few restaurants in the City offer student-friendly prices. Trips to the outside world to get a bite to eat tend to be limited to special outings with friends, date nights and visits from parents.
And that’s upsetting — one of the best ways to discover new parts of Pittsburgh is by going to restaurants and bars. And with Pitt’s fare-free bus pass, little else is stopping students from going out with friends to try out a new eatery.
Marketing new deals isn’t challenging either — news of discounts travels fast among the student population. Practically the day an eatery begins offering half-off drinks after 8 p.m., Pitt students’ social media accounts light up with notifications. And through student-based apps like Pocket Points, many local deals can be acquired with a school ID.
Offering student discounts is favorable to restaurants in several ways. It’ll definitely increase foot traffic, especially at later hours and on the weekends when college students tend to be out. A business that offers a discount to a large number of students is sure to make more money than a business that sells pricier food to fewer customers.
With Pitt students’ access to fare-free public transportation, a business located Downtown or in neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill and Shadyside might seriously benefit from offering student discounts that will attract many of Pitt’s 19,000 undergraduates, as well as students from surrounding universities.
Besides being good for businesses, students would also benefit from discounts outside of Oakland. Not only would they get to taste new food at cheaper prices, they could also familiarize themselves with the City. Instead of holing up in the campus bubble that first-year seminar classes encourage students to escape from, they’ll zip down to Noodlehead in Shadyside or Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville.
Restaurants located outside of Oakland that offer student discounts would be mutually beneficial for students and businesses. Students would get the chance to break out of their on-campus shells and taste new foods at reasonable prices while restaurants would get more foot traffic and rake in cash.
One of Pitt’s biggest draws is the opportunity it offers for those who attend to live fluidly between the campus and the City — something few colleges, even other ones located in Pittsburgh, have the luxury of offering to their students.
The best way to explore a new city is to eat in it — and if restaurants outside of Oakland would offer student discounts, the benefits would make Pittsburgh a more welcoming — and appetizing — city for us all.