A new academic watering hole

While the student union is stalled in talks over opening a pub, restaurant or grocery store in the former pub space in the basement of the CAW Student Centre, plans are underway for an entirely different campus restaurant-pub.

The planned conversion of the Student Awards & Financial Aid building into a a new grad house • drawing Archon Architect Inc. The planned conversion of the Student Awards & Financial Aid building into a a new grad house • drawing Archon Architect Inc.

The old grad house on Sunset Avenue was demolished in 2007 • photo Ryan Rogers

The old grad house on Sunset Avenue was demolished in 2007 • photo Ryan Rogers



Grad students plan for a new academic watering hole while UWSA remain in pub talks

Jon Liedtke
ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

While the student union is stalled in talks over opening a pub, restaurant or grocery store in the former pub space in the basement of the CAW Student Centre, plans are underway for an entirely different campus restaurant-pub.

The Graduate Student Society, who lost their student lounge bar The House on Sunset in 2007 with the construction of the new medical building, has secured the current Student Awards & Financial Aid office as their new headquarters.

“This all started [realizing] we need a space for the graduate students. Right now we have a space which is much smaller and no more than 10 people can sit down and talk to each other. We thought of having a bigger space, one which is larger than the one we had before,” said GSS president Kannappan Thiagarajan.

The University of Windsor provided GSS with a number of options for a new location on campus and they opted for the awards office because it allowed for the inclusion of a patio in the designs and a location away from busy roads.

“An agreement was signed between the university and the GSS in [April] 2012, and after that we started with the designs and approval from our [internal] committee,” said Thiagarajan.

As per the agreement with the university, the GSS will pay up $490,000 for the space with the university covering remaining cost up to $380,000.

Renovations are set to begin this summer and Thiagarajan expects the project to be completed by the fall in time for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the university.

The space will feature a full bar, patio, GSS offices and a boardroom with a capacity to accommodate more than 20 people.

“We’re planning to have the boardroom open to all, so if a graduate student [couldn’t] find a room for [class] presentations they can contact GSS to book the room,” said Thiagarajan.

The GSS approached the pub independently of the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance, who are currently in talks internally on what to do with a 2,000 square-foot area retained by the student union in the former pub in the CAW Student Centre basement. The former student-run pub gained attention for years of mismanagement mounting to over $1 million in debt and leading to to its closure last year.

Thiagarajan explained that the grad students’ pub will not be operated by the GSS, rather an independent operator in an effort to reduce the potential for mismanagement.

“This pub is not going to be operated by us, the [operator] will be responsible for taking out the liquor licence and selling of the alcohol … it doesn’t fall under the portfolio of the GSS,” said Thiagarajan, who explained that while the GSS has roughly three operator proposals to choose from, they “haven’t decided upon who it will be given to.”

The university operated Bookstore, ousted from the Odette School of Business last semester, is moving into the majority of the former Thirsty Scholar Pub location. UWSA president Kimberly Orr explained that the upcoming UWSA elections will feature a straw-poll on the ballot asking students whether they want a cafe/lounge, a restaurant/pub or a grocery store to fill the remaining space.

“We’re waiting to hear back from students before we know what we are going to do with our half of the project,” she said.

Orr wasn’t able to provide a specific budget for construction. “The cost for renovating it to make it a grocery store could be completely different than the cost of renovating it to make it a restaurant and that’s something that either this year’s board of directors— or more than likely next year’s board of directors— is going to have to decide.”

The UWSA is sharing the cost of demolition with the Bookstore and according to Orr, “It makes absolutely no sense to demolish one half of the space and not the other.”

“We’re paying for [shared costs] right now, and they’re essentially going to give us a grey box, where it’s drywall and nothing else, so we can decide what we can put in,” stated Orr, adding that the UWSA is “only paying for our space that’s being demolished. We’re not paying for the bookstore’s space being demolished, but it’s way more cost effective to do it together than to do it separately.”

The UWSA’s new space will back onto the patio which, according to Orr, will either double the seating capacity of a pub/restaurant or allow for sidewalk sales if the space is turned into a grocery store.

“We anticipate moving into the new bookstore in October or November of this year,” said the Bookstore’s sales and marketing co-ordinator, Martin Deck, who explained that business has notable decreased following their move to their interim location in Vanier Hall.

“It does negatively impact our sales,” said Deck, referencing the difficulty for customers to find their current location. “It’s not the same bookstore because we don’t have all the same stuff in it. It’s very unfortunate that we’ve had to separate our clothing from our textbooks and our general reading book selection.”

The Bookstore, GSS pub and the UWSA pub, lounge or grocery store are all slated for completion by September 2013. All are on schedule except the UWSA.

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