Campus is not the right place for a struggling student bar
This has been a tough year for 1848 financially. The bar, which is owned by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), lost over $35,000 last year. This high loss occurred while the business wasn’t paying rent, which they will have to do this year, possibly resulting in an even greater loss. These consistent fiscal failures raise the question: What could replace 1848 and actually be profitable?
After all of the SFUO’s financial problems in recent years, they really don’t need an unprofitable business on the books dragging things down. Despite the fact that two of their businesses, Agora and Pivik, have been more successful, Café Alt has also been generating a loss, as discussed at the Oct. 15 Board of Administration meeting.
While it’s understandable to want a cheap bar on campus, there is too much competition from neighbouring bars downtown for that to survive, as 1848 has proven. The same argument can be made for just about any type of restaurant that might be proposed, especially in the age of Uber Eats.
If the SFUO wants to put in place something that would benefit students, what they should do is create more study spots with the space from the bar. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some more areas to sit and do work on campus, especially if they added in a reasonable amount of plugs? They could even leave the pool table and most of the existing furniture, just run a cord with some outlets down the picnic tables, and add some more wall outlets.
It’s just not practical for many other types of businesses to be profitable in 1848’s current location. When students can walk five minutes in any direction and find a similar product for the same price at a sometimes higher quality, why would they stay on campus?
A new study space isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t have a flashy appeal. You could even make the case that it’s something the university administration should provide, and not the SFUO. All of those things are true, but a new study space is the kind of boring, unappealing piece of infrastructure that can actually improve the lives of students on campus.
As we all have to buckle down and start doing more work than we’d like to, think about what you’d really like to see on campus. Would you rather have a bar providing the same thing you could get at almost literally countless places around campus? Or would you rather have something that will prove beneficial to students for decades to come?