The Hub bars outside food and drink
SA working to combat projected $200,000 shortfall
Bryan Weismiller & Rachael Frey
Ria Sarkar was ready to celebrate her friend’s 22nd birthday in the campus bar when she saw the sign.
The notice, which was posted by The Hub on Nov. 14, reads: “Support your SA! We respectfully ask for no outside food or drink!” The new rule meant Sarkar couldn’t bring birthday cake into the bar she hangs out in two or three times a week.
“You just want to do something nice for your friend,” she said. “What are you going to do, sit in the food court and cut a cake?
“I feel at home here, so I like to think of this as my own place.”
Sarkar said she used to bring food, such as salads, into the Liberty Lounge all time, adding healthier options are more expensive on the new menu.
“They make it hard for us because they’re forcing us to buy their food,” she said.
The Hub’s new policy of banning outside food and drink is part of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University’s strategy to reduce a projected loss of $200,000 for the fiscal period ending June 30, according to a recent ten-day analysis.
Some students have expressed unhappiness with the new rules.
“It takes away from the campus-bar feel,” said eco-tourism student Jesse Hebenton. “You can’t just go in with your Subway because your buddies are in there.”
Hebenton proposed a policy where patrons would have to buy a drink in order to eat in the bar.
Though the restaurant was analyzed as risky during the planning phase, SA president Meghan Melnyk said the Students’ Association decided to go ahead with it because it was what students were asking for.
“Starting any new business venture is high risk, but in the long term our payoff meant that we’d have more flexibility in serving our students,” Melnyk said.
SA officials attributed the projected shortfall to construction delays. Liquor service was supposed to start before the first week of classes with the kitchen opening at the end of September.
However, the first drinks weren’t poured until Sept. 13, with food eventually being offered near the end of October.
“The delays cost us,” Melnyk said. “The school is about patterns, where students go and what they do in their first few weeks.”
The Hub must make $2,100 to $2,300 per day to break even. Over the first 20 days of food service, the highest grossing day has been $2,300 (including catering) and the lowest has been $1,000, according to numbers released by the Students’ Associaton at the last council meeting.
Other strategies for reducing the potential loss include launching take-out and catering options, adding more tables and chairs (though the overall capacity of 234 people will not change) and modifying the existing menu in response to student feedback, Melnyk said.
The menu changes will include nachos, due to popular demand, and more sandwich and pasta options. Prices will be similar to what they are now, with the goal of keeping food affordable on a student budget.
“They serve great food and it’s super tasty,” said Page MacPhee, also an eco-tourism student. “At the same time they need to realize they’re a campus pub.”
“The menu isn’t very inclusive to people who are vegetarian and people who are gluten-free, and I just think there are other vendors out there who are.”
Michelle Dennis, SA VP external, said the prices are very competitive in comparison to restaurants and other campus bars. “The meals here are homemade, they’re nutritious, and they’re at a low price point,” Dennis said.
Melnyk stressed any profit the Students’ Association makes goes back into services for students. “We do take it very seriously that this is student money we’re investing in this project,” she said.
The new pub makes up most of this summer’s $2.4-million Wyckham House renovation, outside of the link touchup and work on the Wyckham House washrooms.
“We just want students to give (The Hub) a chance,” Melnyk said. “If they’ve been getting chicken strips from Dairy Queen forever and ever, give ours a try. They’re about the same price, they’re really good, and we have better fries.”