Welcome to the Pub Downunder

By Matt Rabey

The only place on campus legally permitted to sell alcohol, the Pub Downunder, is the place where you can find students unwinding and having a drink.

The Students’ General Association (SGA) operates the pub and the staff consists of SGA members. Cheryl Powell, senior manager explained, “everyone who works here is an SGA member because we are owned and operated by the SGA. We have almost zero affiliation with the university except for the fact that we are SGA-operated.”

The space is leased off of Laurentian University, but the pub does have to answer to the university if incidents happen on the premises.
If any incidents do occur at the pub, the consequences for those involved can be severe, as Powell explains, “we have a code of sanctions that is a very strict guideline. As in, you do this, this is the penalty. It generally works on pub bans. They are everywhere from three months, to a lifetime ban.”

Anyone caught fighting in the pub will immediately receive a lifetime ban.

The pub, however, does not have many instances where security needs to get involved.

“We’re pretty lucky here compared to other bars,” said Powell. “I’m not saying that things don’t happen, but if you look at particularly the city clubs, we don’t have the same kind of issues. Guns, knifes, broken bottles, I’ve been here nine years and I’ve never had an incident like that happen. If we have a handful of serious incidents, actual physical altercations a year, that’s about standard for us.”

Incidents are not always fights, for instance, at a pub event the DJ told everyone to get on the tables. One girl got up on the table and fell, resulting in her immediate expulsion from the pub.

“Our main job is to keep both our staff and our patrons safe,” said Powell. “If we start seeing risky behaviour like that, sorry you’re going to have to leave. They are usually pretty quickly handled with no serious repercussions.”

The security at the pub is handled by the pub itself and is composed of licensed security guards and in-house security. On an average pub night, the number of people working is between five and ten staff members, with one of them acting as head bartender and head of security.

This past fall, the pub started introducing a small menu.

“We’ve actually been talking about doing it for years,” said Powell. “But, because Aramark has the contract for food, we did have to work it outwith them. We finally got it going last year and they replaced the chef, so we kind of had to start again. It seems to be working really well, I’m pretty happy about it. It’s bringing in that different crowd in the afternoons.”

All of the profit from the sale of food goes directly to Aramark, but this will potentially change as Powell explained.

“[It’s] sort of a trial, in September we’ll renegotiate and say ‘you’re making this many dollars, why can’t we get a little cut of that?’”

The pub is also looking into expanding their food operation by possibly introducing wing nights or special appetizers.

“We’re working on ideas like this,” said Powell. “Will we see them this year? I don’t think so. It is something that we are pushing for.”

Since introducing food, however, the pub increased its prices within the first month resulting in complaints from the student body.

“Our hands are pretty tied with the contract with the university,” said Powell. “It’s tough for us, the menu’s changed, the prices have changed and we’ve taken some heat for it, but we don’t have a lot of control over it. We just apologize and say we’re doing the best we can.”