Stores located on the fourth basement of ECC closed their doors consecutively during the summer vacation due to the termination of their lease contracts. Students showed mixed reactions to this sudden closure - some missed the old ones and others expressed excitement for new ones. Along with these reactions, rumors on ECC's high rents arose among students, doubting it as the cause for the sudden closure.
On June 28, the Food Hall stopped its business temporarily due to the the end of their lease contract with Shinsegae Food. Since the company no longer managed the hall, many stores under it all stopped their business and moved out together. Richemont bakery, which had stayed with students ever since the opening of ECC in 2008, also ended its business on the following day.
The new company to run the Food Hall is LG Ourhome, a global food business group, which moved in after remodeling the place in mid-August. TOUS les JOURS bakery replaced Richemont’s place and started its business around the end of July.
“For a long time, we have constantly strived to make good quality products,” a staff of Richemont said. “We regret to say that our store is now closing due to the end of the lease contract.”
The staff further commented that they could not extend the contract because the school refused to do so on account of equity. Regarding this consecutive closure, many students suspected ECC high rents as the cause. In July, rumors on high rents were once spread on Everytime, an online platform for university students.
“I wonder whether the Food Hall menus were expensive due to the high rents,” said Kim Min-sol, a sophomore from Department of Korean Language & Literature. “If it were the case, then the price would still be the same regardless of company.”
When asked about this issue, Kim Young-hwan, officer of Purchasing, replied that the rumors were not true at all.
“The consecutive closure has nothing to do with the high rents,” Kim said. “They are closing only because their lease contracts have been terminated. Stores gain rights to run business at ECC through bidding. It would have been rather unfair if we kept the original stores even after their contracts had ended.”
Kim explained that new stores will continue to come in and the old stores will eventually be replaced as long as the school keeps the current bidding system.
“It’s a very natural phenomenon and students will have more diverse options too,” Kim concluded.