No official timeline set for opening of Pub Downunder, renovations still to come


By Jessica Robinson, Staff Reporter

As all Laurentian students now know, campus mod is alive and well. The renovations have sprung up across Sudbury campus as part of the school’s extended plan to improve and modernize the university and it’s campus.

Among these many construction sites is the campus pub, which has yet to open this semester, although it was intended to be ready for September 2015.

Johnny Humphrey, Students’ General Association (SGA) President, said that the original plan was actually to move the Pub Downunder into the new student centre, although this would take up a lot of the available space, and a sizeable portion of the budget. With this in mind, an alternative was proposed by the SGA: investing in the current pub, rather than starting from scratch.

Falling under campus mod, Humphrey said the renovation costs have not been paid for by the association, but are instead being covered by the university.

“Basically, there (are) two phases to the renovations,” explained Nick Holmberg, Executive Director of the SGA.

Holmberg stated that phase one is currently taking place: an infrastructure remodel that consists of shifting the bathrooms over towards the front entrance, where the lounge area used to be located, as the incoming loading dock is now taking up the space where the old bathrooms used to be.

Phase two will see more aesthetic renovating, but it is not going to happen this year.

“The timeline hasn’t been officially set,” Holmberg said, as it is designed to coincide with the development of the new student centre. The SGA is hoping to begin working on those plans in the new year.

This means that when pub does finally open it’s doors, “it’s likely going to be very similar to last year,” Humphrey acknowledged.

Although phase one was scheduled to be completed by September, so that pub could open at the beginning of the new academic year, the all-too-familiar discovery of asbestos in the building delayed the progress.

“We weren’t too surprised; it was a little disappointing, but it happens, so we just have to make sure it’s safe for students to come back in,” said Holmberg.

Having finally tackled the problem, the bathrooms are on track to be completed within six weeks.

“We’re going to get everything organized, get all our orders in, and look to open for second semester,” Humphrey said.

The SGA is also working to gather information from other student unions across Canada, as well as LU students, to learn more about what does and doesn’t work in a campus pub setting. Humphrey reveals that they’ve found that a sort of “hybrid model” is the ideal set up: a space which is a restaurant during the day, open to people of all ages to order food and socialize, and then transforms into a 19+ nightclub program in the evenings.

The idea is to ensure that the space is “inclusive for all of our students who are underage, that are still paying for the pub (through student fees).”

A specific request from students has been more “cooked-to-order food [options] here on campus,” which would differ from the buffet-style set up offered at the Great Hall.

The pub kitchen will be run in partnership with Aramark. “We have our own sort of agreement that’s separate from the university for the kitchen,” Humphrey explains. “Going forward, with the new food contract that’s going to be coming in this year, we were able to negotiate sort of what we want: price points, menu items, all that sort of stuff, for this space in the future. We’ll be getting control for food which, we felt, is a pretty big win for us.”

The intention is to stick to affordable, bar-style food, ideal options for students. Humphrey said the SGA is currently working with Aramark in tandem, to ensure that the choices are “inclusive and accessible.”

Overall, the SGA have high hopes for the future of the pub.

“I think with a few renovations it can be very multipurpose, multifunctional, and just a really good piece of campus, a very good social space,” said Humphrey as he looked around the pub. Especially in light of the upcoming student centre remodelling, he sees pub as “one of the main sort of areas where students will be in between classes and all that.”

-Photo by Jessica Robinson