Foot traffic expected to increase significantly in already limited space

In mid-winter when there is a load of work and a lack of sunlight, students can always use a little vitamin boost. And come January, they’ll have the opportunity to get this from smoothies when a new location of Booster Juice is slated to come to the McMaster University Student Centre.

After the closing of Scoops, a smoothie and ice cream vendor that occupied a small kiosk next to Tim Hortons, McMaster Hospitality Services (MHS) explored different options for new businesses for the space. The deal between MHS and Booster Juice was announced in December of last year.

Lori Diamond, Director of MUSC, noted that students are happy with the deal.

“Feedback from students … was overwhelmingly positive when our proposal came forward,” she said.

Despite the anticipation from students and administrators, there has been no noticeable progress on a storefront in the student centre. And at this point, the construction details are still unclear.

“Nothing is confirmed,” explained Albert Ng, Director of MHS. The University held a meeting with the contractor and construction project team on Nov. 19 in order to work out these details, but Ng emphasized the fact that no strict timeline had been set.

“Three groups are trying to establish what would be a conservable and doable schedule,” he said, noting that the coordination between these groups was not always easy. MHS has some control over the construction, as the electrical work is run through McMaster, but the equipment for the store comes from Booster Juice, and the contractor is from an external company.

“From my understanding, most of the kiosk itself is constructed off-site, then put in place and hooked up with electrical, plumbing and equipment,” Diamond explained.

MUSC administration said that the proposal suggested construction would start the week of Nov. 26, with the opening scheduled for Jan. 2. And despite the lack of confirmation for the plans, Ng said, “we’re still hopeful that we can get it done for the New Year.”

The kiosk will occupy the same place as the previous smoothie bar, though it “will have a larger footprint.” The choice of location has raised some concerns about traffic flow and available space in the student centre, which is already often overcrowded. And MUSC, which replaced Hamilton Hall as the student centre when it opened in 2002, was built at a time when the student population was approximately 14,000 full-time students.

Diamond noted, “we did … consider [the impact on space], as did Hospitality Services in bringing forward the proposal.”

She said that the addition of the kiosk would not require a removal of seating, but that the existing food court area will be reconfigured to accommodate it.

MUSC added 48 seats to the area last year in order to accommodate the “rising demand,” but during the day the space is almost always full.

And the new storefront could pose more of a problem than rearranged seating; like the Tim Horton’s, Booster Juice will have to have a lineup for its customers.

Diamond claimed that “it will be configured to corral the line-up away from the main traffic corridor.”

But it remains to be seen whether the convenience of campus smoothies will come at the cost of a busier student centre.

Before the plan for a campus location, the nearest Booster Juice was a few minutes from campus, located at Main Street and Thorndale. It has since been closed.

Booster Juice was unavailable for comment on whether or not this is related to McMaster’s new store.

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