On June 18, the Student Representative Assembly of the McMaster Students Union met to discuss a number of points. One of the most substantial points to come out of this meeting was the unanimous vote in favour of, “1280 Café Capital Allocation (Marauders Nest Project).”
There are two main phases this. Daniel D’Souza, vice-president (Finance), explained the perspective that the MSU took to start these projects.
“Our mindset is being able to provide the best value to students. Not necessarily the most fancy options, but the most affordable options.”
The first phase deals with preparation space and the café, and will cost $99 000.
This preparation space will be a created area in the back storage room of Union Market to provide items in house for the café, detailed in the second phase, and to expand Union Market’s food offerings.
“The idea is that sandwiches can be made in TwelvEighty, but they can be packaged in Union Market,” said D’Souza.
D’Souza stated that the plan for this may change over the next few months, but currently stands as a way to reduce expenses. As detailed in the proposal, sandwiches from TwelvEighty are better quality and less expensive, $1.60 at cost, than the alternative, but are unable to produce during the year due to how busy they are with their own operations. Taro, the supplier for the academic year, provides the quantity at a $2.25 price point.
The proposal also mentions that sandwiches are one of their top selling items in the summer due to their affordable price and quality.
The expected immediate savings during the school year from making them in house is calculated to be $8060, and the profit increase during the school year is calculated to be $45 384.
The café itself will be located where the side bar and current unused lounge space in TwelvEighty currently is with a lot of promises based on student feedback.
“Some of the reoccurring themes that we see are, one, price. That food is way too expensive on campus. Two is when it comes down to the cheaper foods, there aren’t many healthy options. And three was dietary restrictions and culturally appropriate foods,” said D’Souza.
He expanded on the last point by stating how there were a limited amount of healthy halal options available and a large lack of kosher food on campus. He also highlighted the lack of choice that can come with using a meal card plan.
“There are a couple of areas around campus that are quite successful at that. When you look at My Dog Joe or Brown Dog Café, but there’s no feeling like that on campus. I think that’s the niche that this fills.”
Vice president (Finance)
McMaster Students Union
The intended purpose of the café is to satisfy a lot of the middle ground that currently exists with food options on campus. Its target price level will be between Union Market and TwelvEighty as is, will be ideal for hour or two hour long breaks between classes and for students that want the flexibility to sit down and study or get a grab and go hot lunch at that lower price.
“There are a couple of areas around campus that are quite successful at that. When you look at My Dog Joe or Brown Dog Café, but there’s no feeling like that on campus. I think that’s the niche that this fills,” said D’Souza.
When it comes to the financials, a lot of it will be dependent on how successful the café is and what the demand will be for a relatively unknown entity. However, the break-even point is projected to be one-third of Union Market’s sales numbers during the school year.
In addition to this preparation space and the café, a longer term plan for online ordering is expected to roll out next year.
“The idea is that students will be able to order either through a website or an app for pickup,” said D’Souza.
While details are unclear this early in the process, there has been progress towards selecting the company that will design this system.
The second phase of all of this is to eventually expand the lounge space if the café is successful. This will be determined once the café has been completed and demand can be sufficiently measured, but it is a possibility down the line.