By: Neda Pirouzmand
With just over a year since its introduction in February 2018, The Grind is in the process of expanding to accommodate up to 125 people.
Vice president (Finance) Alexandrea Johnston credits an engineering management 5B03 capstone project for the idea to increase The Grind’s capacity. Two McMaster engineering students led this project in direct partnership with the then vice president (Finance), Scott Robinson. They studied how busy The Grind is, what people were purchasing and the feasibility of an expansion. After synthesizing their research they found that 65 per cent of the time, The Grind operates at full capacity.
Upon consulting other student unions and contractors to estimate projected costs, the capstone proposal for expanding The Grind was submitted to the Student Representative Assembly and Executive Board.
Since receiving their approval, the proposal has progressed to the quote-allocation stage, which must be completed before any money can be spent. Johnston and her team hope to have the quote-allocation stage completed by July so that construction may begin as soon as possible.
“Currently, The Grind has 45 seats. The first phase of the proposed expansion will be able to accommodate approximately 40 more seats,” Johnston said. “After this first phase, there are plans to add additional seats in December. This would bring about another 40 seats, bringing the total seating capacity up to 125.”
The proposed floor plan involves extending The Grind into what has been TwelvEighty’s event space. However, the design plans are meant to be executed such that the extension of The Grind may still be used for events.
Along with these changes, Johnston revealed the possibility of adding various bagel melts onto The Grind’s menu this year. There are no current plans to expand the kitchen or the staff.
The proposed Grind expansion poses an opportunity to offset TwelvEighty’s budget deficit. “While both establishments share the same budget, The Grind operates with a 61 per cent profit margin,” said Johnston.
Johnston added that detailed financial statements comparing The Grind and TwelveEighty will be available in the fall on the McMaster Students Union website. This will be through the release of the 2018-2019 audit, a process that occurs every year to assess the financial status of the MSU.
While the audited statements from 2017-2018 do not include financial information on The Grind, they reveal that TwelveEighty ended the year at a deficit of $275 842 based on May 1 2017 to Apr. 30, 2018 data. This is drastically higher than TwelveEighty’s budget deficit of $178 050 from the previous year. A 48 per cent reduction in beer and liquor sales accounts for a large portion of the budget imbalance.
It is too soon to accurately estimate the impact of The Grind expansion. If the expansion is fully completed and The Grind continues to succeed, then this will be very telling as to the power of molding university establishments to suit changing student interests.