By: Tanoy Biswas
As students continue to grind out their schoolwork at McMaster University, the newest hot food and beverage café on campus, the Grind, is just beginning its service to the university population.
The McMaster Student Union vice president (Finance), Daniel “Tuba” D’Souza, along with other MSU staff members, collaborated to address the lack of quick and affordable hot food on campus through the café.
“The initial proposal for the café was made back in May 2017 when the new student union board of directors officially stepped into office Through working with the Student Representative Assembly, the TwelvEighty management team and Facility Services we approved a budget to hire an architect managed the construction project, and built the café,” said D’Souza.
The MSU took a methodical approach when planning the café to ensure that it offered more affordable food options on campus. In the summer of 2017, the MSU consulted with facility services and student focus groups to get a better understanding of the kind of food items that satisfy a student appetite.
“As we receive more input from students during the soft launch we can further craft the menu to meet the expectations of students for quick, affordable, healthy food.”
MSU vice president (Finance)
“The price of food in the café was designed with affordability in mind. The café offers a range of crepes at different price points depending on what a student is able to afford,” said D’Souza.
Located in the basement of the student centre right next to TwelvEighty, the Grind offers sweet and savoury crepes ranging from $3.99 to $9.99, and hot caffeinated beverages including mochas, cappuccinos and more ranging from $1.50 to $3.00.
“Our prices were based on over 70 anonymous feedback forms we received during our trial period where students were able to write down what price they would pay for the crepe that they received,” D’Souza said.
“As we receive more input from students during the soft launch we can further craft the menu to meet the expectations of students for quick, affordable, healthy food,” he added.
Additionally, the MSU conducted research for the ideal design features students prefer in a café, which included lighting, seating arrangements, power outlets and the overall aesthetic design.
Construction of the café occurred during the first semester of the 2017-2018 school year and the hiring and training of staff along with the branding of the establishment was finalized in the first half of January 2018.
The café was built in the existing space of TwelvEighty but it is its own entity. The staff of the new establishment includes a few employees from TwelvEighty but the majority of workers are new hires.
The employees were trained by a specialist to learn how to operate the new machinery needed to make espresso and its associated drinks. Additionally, chefs from the TwelvEighty staff trained new employees on how to make crepes for the café.
Inside the Grind, the layout includes multiple seating spaces in a well-lit area to accommodate a variety of uses such as studying or more casual uses.
The Grind has held limited runs throughout January meant for some MSU staff members to give feedback. The soft launch was held on Jan. 29, and the grand opening is expected to be in February after the reading week break.