Alcohol will return to Wilson Commons Jan. 24 when the new pub opens on the third floor for an 18-month trial period.
The Pub Committee, consisting of students, faculty and staff, has been preparing for the opening. It has finalized the pub’s floor plan and its menu and decided on a majority of the alcohol products that the pub will serve.
A decision was also reached banning the use of both declining balance and Flex for items sold in the pub. The name of the new pub will be decided on before the end of the fall semester.
“I’m incredibly excited that after so much effort on the part of so many people that the pub is finally going to open,” said junior Lonny Mallach, Chief of Staff for Students’ Association President John LaBoda and co-chair of the Pub Committee.
The new pub will be located on the third floor of Wilson Commons, where the game room is now. Along with the bar and the food serving area, the room, which will seat 70 people, will include among other things, one big screen television, a removable stage, three pool tables and more dartboards.
“The goal is to make the space as versatile as possible, because it is one space catering to many different needs,” Mallach said.
The room will be configured so that everything can be moved to create the right atmosphere for what’s happening. It can be used as a bar, for performances or for televised events.
“On different nights, there’s going to be a different feel,” Mallach said.
Plans have been made to decorate with large glass picture frames that will be decorated with lots of pictures and memorabilia from UR’s past and present.
“It will give the pub a U of R kinda feel,” Mallach said.
To determine what will constitute the success of the pub, the Metrix subcommittee was created. Three different areas will be evaluated by the subcommittee to determine the success of the pub ? its financial viability, the number of people who use the area and how much it improves campus life.
Director of Wilson Commons and Student Activities Rob Rouzer said that numeric measurements and survey evaluations should be good indicators of the pub’s success or failure on how the pub affects student life at UR.
“The goal is to have a place where students gather,” he said. “A place students will see as a destination, where people are willing to and want to hang out.”
Financially, the Metrix subcommittee, of which LaBoda is a member, decided to judge the pub financially not in isolation but in the greater context of Wilson Commons.
“The pub may lose money as an independent operation, but [could] increase the business for the other two dining venues in Wilson Commons,” he said.
The pub may encounter difficulties making money independently because the pub will not accept declining or Flex monies.
Tax laws are the major difficulties hindering the use of declining balance in the pub because alcohol, unlike food products, isn’t tax exempt. Flex will not be used because of concerns raised by members of the committee that parents will be worried that their students will spend money intended for books or laundry needs on alcohol in the pub.
Quentin Roach, director of purchasing and auxiliary operations and chair of the pub’s subcommittee on Operations said he hopes his committee will be able to examine the issue further. He suggested that a possibility would be to create a cashless account that was separate from a term bill. This would allow parents the security to know that money provided on Flex was going to academic concerns while students would have the ease of paying for items in the pub with their UR IDs.
The committee has reached an agreement with the High Falls Brewing Company to allow it to supply a majority of the beer for the new pub including Genny Light, 12 Horse Ale and Honey Brown.
Roach said there were two driving forces behind giving High Falls such access to the new pub. High Falls will be providing some of the signs and the equipment for the new area to allow it feel more like a pub-atmosphere.
“They will provide traditional bar stuff,” Roach said.
The subcommittee decided on High Falls because they felt it was a good opportunity to buy beer and support a local supplier.
“Why not support one of Rochester’s own,” Roach said.
The agreement with High Falls will not mirror the university’s new contract with Coca-Cola that allows the company exclusive rights to sell its products at UR. The subcommittee is considering selling several other brews, including Guinness.
The pub won’t provide just alcohol. It will serve food, including pizza, nachos, popcorn, sandwiches and salads.
“We going to try to make it a snack food, friendly type of atmosphere,” ARAMARK District Manager Paul Palmer said.
One of the limitations of the third floor space is that it won’t have kitchen capabilities because it is too cost-prohibitive for the trial period. Food will be prepared in the kitchen located on the first floor and brought upstairs. There, the food will be kept in food warmers and served
But, ultimately it is the atmosphere that both Mallach and LaBoda said will be special about the new facility.
“The pub will provide another outlet for students to hang out,” LaBoda said.
“The pub will be a different atmosphere from what [students] are used to seeing in a college experience,” Mallach said.
LaBoda also said he hopes the pub will bring in members of the greater Rochester community, including graduate students, faculty and staff. He expects that instead of meeting some of their students during office hours, professors will take advantage of the new facility and meet students in the more social atmosphere the pub will provide.
The Pub Committee will choose a name for the pub by the end of the semester.
For the past several weeks, the committee has been soliciting suggestions for the name. They complied the suggestions into 10 of the most popular names and, on Wednesday, members from the committee passed out ballots in the Douglass Dining Center. The committee will take the top three vote getters and pick a name from them.
Hildebrandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.