What to do with The Spoke?
Though the news may be distressing to its
loyal patrons, one thing is clear about The Spoke: student
fees are helping to fund a bar that’s losing money.
Last night’s University Students’ Council meeting
saw a $500,000 renovation proposal tabled by USC general manager
Mark Sellars, which would see the majority of The Spoke’s
floor space changed into an alcohol-free lounge area, separating
a licensed area adjacent to the patio by a glass partition.
There are a few reasons for the proposed changes; for instance,
alcohol sales are decreasing this year, while food revenue
remains virtually unchanged. And secondly, there is a new demographic
on campus, with an increased number of underage students due
to the double cohort.
Most blame the loss in revenue to last year’s anti-smoking
by-law and the implosion of the Wet/Dry Program. But if the
Wet/Dry Program was truly working, alcohol sales would technically
The new proposal also features additional “food services” booths,
which could be contracted out to corporations like those that
run CentreSpot right now, and even proposes to increase traffic
by putting InfoSource in the bar. While this would generate
revenue during the day, fewer students can be found going out
for six burgers on a Thursday night than those going for six
Last year, The Spoke also saw increased traffic due to buck-a-beer
Mondays, an initiative killed this year due to its financial
inviablity. Similar promotions to attract students who can
actually buy more alcohol could prove similarly effective.
While underage students also deserve a place to unwind on
campus (as most of them live in residence and are essentially
stuck here), the students who are old enough to drink — the
ones still in the majority on campus — would be literally
cornered by the plan.
It would make much more sense if they spent the $500,000 on
a complete renovation minus the glass wall separating drinkers
from non-drinkers like some kind of freakish zoo. The Spoke
would thus become a place where people who do drink will want
to return and spend their money, thereby boosting alcohol sales.
It’s clear that under-agers on campus need someplace
to go. They have it. It’s called The Wave. It makes more
sense to make The Wave the “dry” restaurant and
keep The Spoke as the campus bar, as students old enough to
drink are also notorious for avoiding bars swamped with 18-year-olds
like the plague.
It’s obvious The Spoke could use a little facelift — the
carpeting is gross and the lingering smell of smoke, beer and
urine from years past isn’t helped by the smell of the
kitchen’s grease; not to mention the broken chairs and
tables, for that matter.
The current version of the renovation plan seeks the best
of both worlds — too bad it probably won’t work.