The Grind, the McMaster Students Union-run cafe that was added to TwelvEighty in February 2018, has been churning out more cash than its bar and grill counterpart.

According to a report written by Daniel “Tuba” D’Souza, MSU vice president (Finance), to the Student Representative Assembly, the Grind has been earning an average of $1,000 per day. The cafe is expected to increase TwelvEighty’s revenue by 22 per cent and reduce the overall deficit by approximately $100,000 for the upcoming academic year.

“The success of the Grind shows that the student demographic is changing. For the first time in MSU history we will have sold more coffee than alcohol,” read part of the report. “This is something that needs to be seriously considered when looking at the future of TwelvEighty.”

According to D’Souza, universities and colleges across North America have witnessed a similar trend as pubs and bars languish in popularity.

“Today’s students are burdened with debt and are selective of how they spend their money, prioritizing experiences and quality over quantity,” said D’Souza, who believes that campus club culture is not dying, but transforming as students become more conscientious of how and when they spend money on alcohol.

“For the first time in MSU history we will have sold more coffee than alcohol.”


Daniel “Tuba” D’Souza
Vice president (Finance)
McMaster Students Union

D’Souza notes that events such as Homecoming, Light Up The Night and club nights continue to reach maximum capacity, reflecting a continued interest in club culture.

“That volume isn’t replicable throughout the year. From conversations with club promotion companies and past bar owners in the area, students are busy and prioritize school over entertainment more than in past years,” he said.

The Grind’s financial success is also a byproduct of the increasing use of coffee shops as study spaces. In light of the high demand for seating at the Grind, D’Souza has proposed the allocation of funds to renovate the dance floor and staging area of TwelvEighty to expand the cafe.

The proposal still has to be approved by the incoming Student Representative Assembly, and the nuances of it will depend on the plans of next year’s leadership and TwelvEighty’s management.

“TwelvEighty is currently our biggest cost centre but will show marked improvements with the addition of the Grind,” read part of the report.

In his report, D’Souza suggests that TwelvEighty should focus on improving its serving style, menu options, use of technology, ease of ordering and marketing strategy. However, in the report, he does not elaborate on what he means by these areas of improvement.

In his year-plan, D’Souza sought to implement an online ordering system for TwelvEighty. Nevertheless, this promise was abandoned as feasibility and logistical issues emerged in the fall of 2017. Whether or not D’Souza seeks to reintroduce this proposal remains unclear.

What is clear, however, is that the Grind is expected to compensate, at least in part, for TwelvEighty’s lack of profit.

During the cafe’s trial period, which occurred before the Grind officially opened for service, feedback forms were released to students. The main demands were for milk substitutes, which are now available at no cost, and increased seating capacity.

“Currently students love the food options, fresh baked scones and cookies, and the daily crepe specials,” said D’Souza. “With its booming success this year the future of the Grind looks bright with students already asking to expand the space more into TwelvEighty.”

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