By: Noam Beltran  | 

Golan, Yeshiva University Make Amends in New Omni Dollars Agreement

Golan Heights Israeli Grill resumed its acceptance of Caf Card Omni Dollars this semester after its agreement with YU was suspended last February due to a conflict over Omni Dollars policy.

Golan and YU have turned the clocks back to reestablish their relationship as it appeared before these events, albeit with some slight differences. With the new arrangement between the restaurant and YU, students are now able to purchase food at Golan Heights using their Omni Dollars, the Caf Card funds specifically for use at participating off-campus food vendors, without worrying that they will be charged sales tax. Students can also add funds to their Omni Dollars account when they finish the amount they chose to as part of their Caf Card plan.

A manager at Golan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the restaurant agreed to a new Omni Dollars deal because, “too many YU students were unable to eat at Golan. Some may come here on [need-based] scholarship, and only spend the allotted money available on their ID cards” that also serve as cafeteria and restaurant cards. “Our goal is to give the students at Yeshiva as much as we can, while ensuring Golan’s existence for future Yeshiva University generations,” the Golan manager explained.

Paul Oestreicher, Executive Director of YU’s Office of Communication and Public Affairs, said, “YU is very pleased that we were able to work out an agreement that allowed [Golan] to return to participating with the YU Dining Plan. We’re happy to see students have as many options as possible.”

Students were pleased to find when they returned at the beginning of the semester that they could once again use their Caf Cards at Golan. Sara Couzens, a junior at Stern College for Women, relived the moment she discovered Golan was back on the Caf Card. “I was sure it was YU forgetting to update the Caf Card list, but alas, it was true! The favorite hangout of the quiet take-outers and the late-night partiers was back in business with Yeshiva University,” the BIMA major said. “I felt myself breathe a sigh of relief followed by one of disdain, realizing there was no chance of my restaurant money lasting the full semester.”

This statement seems almost prophetic when considering one minor change in Golan’s pricing. In a move that was deemed “necessary” by Golan management, the restaurant raised the prices of selections on their “secret” menu—orders not on the menu, but commonly selected by students. Most notable is the amending of the $6 Sesame/Zadys to a $7.

“It’s frustrating, but I’d still buy it,” chimed Ariel Saadon, a senior in Yeshiva’s Sy Syms School of Business. Other students responses were more emotionally charged: “I was very upset when I asked for my usual $6 Sesame and was charged $7 dollars! I have been at Yeshiva for over a year now and do not like them charging me more than they have in the past,” Junior Shira Osdoba passionately explained. “I am not sure how often I will be eating at Golan this semester.”

The Golan management, however, urges students to give them the benefit of the doubt, and to consider that these changes might have been a necessary business move for the restaurant. “Lots of secret menu items didn’t make much money because (they were) special for the students – but now, working with YU and giving them a commission, and allowing for refilling of the caf cards, we felt it was necessary to cover the loss on the secret menu,” the Golan manager explained. “We are only working with Yeshiva University for the students, because many employees and management attended YU, and we want current and future students to enjoy our food.”

After conversing with the student body from both campuses, the conclusion is that although the price change is confusing and frustrating, it is understandable and will not stop students from eating at Golan. Other local restaurants that also participate in the Caf Card plan with YU have increased their prices this year as well; seemingly this is just a routine habit of eateries looking to have enough to pay their rent and employee salaries.

The new understanding addresses all the points of conflict between YU and Golan from last winter. As the Commentator reported at the time, Yeshiva felt Golan breached the Omni Dollars agreement by charging sales tax on Omni Dollars purchases. Golan, however, posited that students’ ability to replenish Omni funds was not discussed as part of the original deal.

According to Golan owner Benjy Iszak, the original understanding was that YU was entitled to 15% of up to $50 spent at his restaurant per student per semester. After the $50 were used up, students would have to pay with actual cash, and Golan would receive 100% of the revenue from their orders.

“YU never told me anything about students being able to reload their Caf Cards when they run out of Omni funds,” Golan owner Benjy Iszak said at the time. Mr. Iszak said the leap from the original $50 Omni allowance to $250 last semester was never discussed with him and cause him an unfair financial loss, which he tried recovering by charging students a “tax” on Omni Dollars purchases.

In the new deal, Golan Heights will continue to give a small cut of all purchases made with Omni Dollars to Yeshiva University. Golan declined to specify the exact percentage.

It is safe to say that for the foreseeable future, Golan and the other Yeshiva-affiliated restaurants will be accepting the Caf Card, and may be making a slightly bigger dent in your wallet.