West Gate Social replaces Hub at MRU in response to student feedback
By Ryleigh Stangness, Staff Writer
Over the past summer, the Hub saw radical changes that John Hadley, Director of Business and Building Services, says have been vital to the revival of this student social space. The success of these changes has led to an in ux of students at the newly branded West Gate Social, which is now looking for other ways to increase seating capacity.
Hadley was inspired to make changes when he observed the tragic underutilization of the space. He explains the space is owned by SAMRU, and SAMRU is here for the students.
“I really felt it should reflect student wants and needs,” he says.
That’s why last year, Hadley saw student surveys as an opportunity to get valued student feedback. Overwhelmingly, Hadley says, students expressed that they wanted value and price. And SAMRU listened.
To reflect this value, West Gate Social renovated its service model and cut its number of servers and now has patrons pay when they order at the bar. Customers are given a number and their food is brought to their table.
Their new branding advertises: “In a rush? Then you’ll love our new self-service model for West Gate Social! Grab something quick like a salad or sandwich from our Grab-and-Go counter. Have more time and want to relax in the space? Order a hot meal from the counter to be delivered to your table. Maybe add a brewski while you’re at it.”
The adjustment to a cheaper menu includes a swap for foods that won’t spoil as quickly and a minimal menu. Hadley says he recognizes that these changes mean that West Gate Social may no longer meet the preferences and dietary needs of all students, but he hopes the new concept of allowing outside food will compensate for that. Students are encouraged to come in and tag along with friends, even when they don’t want to purchase anything.
“Sometimes you already brought a lunch, or you’re waiting for payday, but now you can still be involved,” he says.
Hadley adds that surveys also showed, that although students previously were coming, they weren’t coming often — merely once or twice a semester.
He hopes cheap prices, Minute to Win it Mondays, Variety Wednesdays and live music every Thursday will cause students to visit more regularly.
“We always have something going on. We try to plan our events around other things [happening] on campus that students might want to attend, but we usually have something fun going on.”
Hadley emphasizes that SAMRU is continuously seeking student feedback, although so far, students seem content with changes as there have been less than a handful of complaints.
“It’s been a while since I was a student and I don’t necessarily know what it’s like to be a student now, so I’m always looking for feedback,” Hadley says. “We really wanted this to be a social space.”