Date Posted: November 1, 2011
Print Edition: October 26, 2011
In a demonstration of faith in AfterMath’s new management, the SUS made a big move this year by slashing the campus pub’s budget – reducing funding from what was previously thousands of dollars to nothing at all. In the 2010/2011 year, the budget for Casey’s was $20,000. This means that the Student Union Society (SUS) allowed for the pub to make a total loss of $20,000 after all sales were made and all expenses calculated; however, the actual loss for that year was $163,990.40. The original proposed budget for this year was $55,000. As of the Annual General Meeting (AGM), this has been reduced to $0.
Vice President of Finance, Samuel Broadfoot, attributed the budget change to confidence in AfterMath’s manager, Brad Ross. “We’ve been spending a fair amount of money [on] Casey’s to subsidize it… we have all the confidence that [Ross] can break even,” he explained. Ross was careful not to associate Casey’s failings with mismanagement, but asserted that his organization of the pub is something that will help them come in at budget. As a veteran of the food service industry, he recognized what he referred to as “horrible, horrible inventory control.” This meant poor regulation of not only the actual food and beverage inventory, but also of staff hours worked and the distribution of free meals. He has changed this in part by closely tracking staff meals and restricting inventory ordering abilities.
Ross went on to state that AfterMath is already doing better than Casey’s did. “We’re well ahead of what Casey’s did the previous September… [though there] might be a smaller amount in total increase for sales, the [biggest] difference is the profit. It’s hugely different.” This may sound like cause for concern to students with empty wallets and tired credit cards in their back pockets – but the profit doesn’t come from the cost of food, it comes from the cost of running the pub. Because there is now tighter inventory control, Ross explained, less money will be lost in every faction of the business, meaning higher grossing profits.
Another recurring issue with Casey’s was that of their liquor license. AfterMath is currently operating under is what’s referred to as a food-primary license, with a liquor add-on. This means that while patrons sitting at the bar are able to order only alcohol, the tables in the restaurant must be able to fiscally report at least 50 per cent food sales. So far, Ross said, they’re managing this: “we’re presently in the high 60 per cents for our food, so we’re in no jeopardy of our food primary license being affected as it has been in the past.”
Ross is also currently attempting to change the license to what is referred to as a private club liquor license. He explains that this is a new approach for a campus pub, but it makes sense: other organizations who operate with this license are groups such as the Rotary Club or the Legion. There are a few requirements – namely, that the holder must be a not-for-profit organization (as SUS is), and that organization must have at least fifty active members (that’s you, students). The third requirement is that the application must be based on safety. Ross explained: “[It’s] a much safer and a friendly environment for students to know that if they come drink in the pub at 12 o’clock or 12 o’clock at night, they’re going to be surrounded by students, and not hoodlums … who just want to drink subsidized beer.” The application to switch the license has been submitted. If it is approved before January 1st of this year, there will be no further associated costs with obtaining the new license, as the existing license will simply change type instead of being renewed. If the license is not approved prior to January 1st, the greatest possible associated cost will be $275.
Until the new license is obtained, regular Thursday night pub nights will not be occurring. Currently, clubs are urged to step forward and host their own pub nights. In these cases, the club itself applies for and holds the event liquor license. At that time, AfterMath becomes only a venue that is rented – thus, there is a reduced danger to them as an establishment. When the new license is in effect, Ross plans to reinstate Thursday night pub nights – but better. “Thursday nights will be two-fold from what it was before. That’ll give me access to do shooter girls, beer barrels, you name it. Full-out pub service. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
It’s difficult to operate with profit in student-run food services on campus. Take, for example, SFU – another predominately commuter campus school. The Simon Fraser Student Society’s budget reports that the cost for their three establishments was $131,064 in 2010. Whether or not a tighter management style can make AfterMath an exception to this rule remains to be seen. While Casey’s ran at a large overage last year, other areas of the SUS budget came in under their allocated amounts, resulting in a total overage of $11,809.67. If our campus pub fails, there is less money in the SUS’s overall budget for other student needs, so it is important that AfterMath not follow in the footsteps of Casey’s 2010 performance.