This Hub’s for you
MRU students embrace new space and anticipate food menu
The newest addition to Wyckham House opened its doors with little ceremony and lots of curiousity from passing students on Sept. 13. Previously The Liberty Lounge, The Hub is still a place for students to relax and chat over a drink, but will offer new services to the student body like a full kitchen with a remarkably upscale menu, in-house washrooms and table service.
The bar’s new name comes from a student contest held last winter semester. The Students’ Association chose it because it speaks to a vision of the bar being a “vibrant hub of the campus community.”
The layout is strikingly different from the bar’s predecessor and the design is decidedly resto-lounge-esque. Most notably the sunken dance floor and stage has been replaced by two very spacious washrooms that are now level with the rest of the space. Tiffany Riddell, Hub manager, said the stairs made it difficult for those with limited mobility to get on the dance floor. The new stage is now more central in a spot to the right of the washrooms. In the subsequent evenings to the opening, students have adopted the area as a dance floor. The south-facing wall was brought out around five feet into the Wyckham House smoking area and now harbours six booths.
The furnishings are contemporary lounge with four-top seating and double couches around lower ovular tables. The lighting is minimal with some coloured LEDs interspersed about. The entrance and the bar feature wood details that complement the light green and dark grey colour scheme.
Overall, it gives an organic, yet modern feeling. A pool table and TVs above the bar are expected to provide bar goers with some as well. They are expected to arrive shortly.
Bar staff said it was pretty funny and coincidental that David Docherty, Mount Royal’s new president, happened to be the first patron to stroll in the door. Apparently, Docherty happened to be standing outside when the doors opened and after he stepped inside other keen students followed.
The SA hired Michael Buffett, who’s been cooking for 10 years and received his red seal three years ago. He will be The Hub’s kitchen manager and says he is really excited to be serving Mount Royal students and even consulted with some before writing the menu.
“I talked to lots of students when writing the menu,” Buffett said. “I talked to lots of young ladies about what they would like to see on the menu, and we took all kinds of things into consideration.
“We’re doing a Korean-style short rib because we know there is a high percentage of students who can’t eat pork. A lot of the young women we spoke with said they’d like to see some nice salads, so we’ve got several entree salads.”
The kitchen hopes to be open further toward the end of September, Buffett said they want everything to be completely up to par.
“The kitchen’s under construction. The stoves are in there, but they’re not hooked up yet,” the chef said. “We’re waiting for gas, we need to pass fire and safety inspections.
“Everything has to be perfect, and we’re not going do it fast, we’re going do it right. We want to make sure when we open it’s done properly, as opposed to rushing through it.”
The full menu has yet to be rolled out and many students suggested the usual pub fair, like burgers, but unfortunately, Buffett said Dairy Queen has the exclusive rights to sell burgers in Wyckham House. In light of that, Buffett has come up with some options that could serve as a sort of substitute, such as sausage sliders, which the chef said they will sell individually, so students can share with friends or just order a couple to enjoy alone. There will, however, be a wing night on Wednesdays, which will surely please those partial to pub grub. Although food will be served students will still be allowed to bring in outside food.
Buffett added that if students are unhappy with items on the menu then they can easily be changed.
“We’re going to have comment cards, we’re going to take comments from students and we can re-print the menu any day of the week. So, if we have to change something because people don’t like it then we change it. If we feel that we missed the buck somewhere we’ll adjust.”
Most students are naturally concerned with pricing, and The Hub’s chef has considered costs as well. The average price for a meal at The Hub will be between eight and $10. A teaser menu on SAMRU’s website lists appetizers, salads, soups, main courses, and desserts. The few specific items are a beet and chevre salad and a dark chocolate and raspberry mousse.
These new additions to the MRU bar mean additional staff in the kitchen and servers for table service. Claire Miglionico is a prep cook for The Hub and said she is looking forward to working there.
“I’m really pumped to be working at The Hub,” Miglionico said. “We have a great team of people going on and the managers are super-duper awesome and are all about promoting a open and friendly atmosphere, which is something I really look up to.”
A new drink menu is also in the works with some new drinks designed to commemorate the lounge’s opening, and as always, drink specials will be available, like a can of Lucky Lager for $3.50 and $3.75 highballs on Electro Tuesdays. Along with all the usual types of draft on tap there is a new beer for those ever popular pitchers: The Japanese standby Sapporo.
“We will have a formal drink menu soon that will include a drink called Hubalicious with bubblegum vodka, and, to name a couple martinis, there will be a Couga-tini and a Purple Revolution in honour of our Mayor,” Riddell said. “We will be open to adding student-suggested drinks to our menu and may even look into making it a fun competition.”
Programming for The Hub will continue to bring student-focused acts and events says the programming manager Josh Boser: “Students are our main focus. Period.
“We reach out to students and encourage them to get involved in the kinds of things going on in The Hub; joining a student club or getting involved with one of our SAMRU student volunteer centres is a great way to influence what happens on stage.”
On Mondays, The Hub will play host to a Minute to Win It night modeled after the popular TV show. Electro Tuesdays will replace what was previously known as student night, and will feature a rotation of local and touring DJs. All MRU students get in free with a flash of their student I.D. but those who don’t attend Mount Royal will pay a $5 cover.
Boser said the acts coming throughout the semester will be diverse and entertaining for all tastes:
“Bedouin Soundclash rocked U-Fest, of course… in addition, we got some fantastic acts like, Key’s N’ Krates, Dipstick & Oilpan and Royal Canoe coming through in September alone,” said the promoter. “Heavy Vinyl Halloween V will be off the hook, guaranteed.”
“We’ve got a few other tricks up our sleeves that students will get pretty excited about we’re sure,” he added.
The Hub was part of phase two of the SA’s $2.4-million renovations to Wyckham House this summer.
It remains to be seen how students will continue to settle into their new hub as more additions are made, but the reaction so far has been pretty positive from employees, managers and student body.