SFUO-run business making 15.5 per cent more than last year

Jesse Mellot | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Sean Done

Café Alt is making over 15 per cent more money than it was at this time last year. The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)-run business experienced a dramatic increase in sales over the month of September. During the first 25 days of this school year, Café Alt’s sales were $30,786.80; during the first 25 days of the 2011 school year, sales were $26,648.57. That is an increase of $4,138.23 or 15.5 per cent.

Adam Gilani, vp finance of the SFUO, said there has been an increase in revenue in all businesses that are run by the SFUO, including the Agora Bookstore, the Pivik, and the campus bar 1848.

“[Café Alt] is one of the businesses I want to see improve a lot because it fills a unique sort of niche on campus for students who may not want to drink at the bar or be the party type of people,” said Gilani. “The café and the vibe that it’s got going on, [is] a lot more for students that are interested in music, whether it’s listening to music or performing.”

As for the café’s increased revenue, Gilani explained it may stem from the SFUO’s attempts to market Café Alt more broadly.

“There were a few different angles we took; the first, when I started in May, was to put in a new marketing strategy to cross-promote Café Alt at our other two businesses on campus, which are 1848 and Pivik,” said Gilani. “The students that visit the Pivik and 1848, they now know about Café Alt.”

The need to grow Café Alt’s brand, as Gilani explained, is at least in part because of its inconspicuous location in the basement of the Simard building on the U of O’s main campus.

“Those who know about Café Alt, they love it and always go back, but very few people knew about Café Alt to begin with,” said Gilani. “It’s in the basement of Simard and not entirely easy to find.”

Café Alt recently changed its coffee supplier to Detour Coffee from Toronto.

“It’s really high quality, and we’re the only ones in Ottawa that serve it,” said Gilani. “We were able to increase the quality [of our product] without increasing the prices drastically.”

Café Alt has played host to artistic events on campus, including a surprise show by Juno nominee Craig Cardiff, and is currently hosting an art exhibit through the month of November (see page 9).

—with files from Jane Lytvynenko