Written by: Michelle Gomez, News Team Member
The Study Public House, SFU’s new on-campus pub, is set to open within the next few weeks.
The Study Public House will be run by the Joseph Richards Group, a B.C.-based hospitality company that was selected by SFU to run the space. It will be in the same space as the former Highland Pub, which was run by the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) and closed in 2017.
The Peak sat down for an interview with The Study’s general manager, Samantha Baker.
Baker explained that the pub will have a wide variety of food and drinks, including 24 beer taps and happy hour offerings. She described their food as “pub style with a bit of flair,” at a competitive price. They will have a gluten-free menu, a vegetarian menu, and vegan options as well.
Additionally, The Study will have brunch service. “We’re famous for our $5 breakfast special, which I think is going to be really competitive,” said Baker.
Baker said that “we want to bring a really fun and energetic vibe to campus. We have a really awesome space that we want to be able to utilize.”
She explained that they will rent out space to clubs and departments for pub nights — however, they will treat it more as a reservation, in the sense that they will rent out a part of the pub rather than the entire establishment. This is because they want to have some space available always for walk-in guests to avoid turning customers away.
Samer Rihani and Jackson Freedman, vice-president student services/acting president and vice-president university relations from the SFSS, said in an email interview with The Peak that “the SFSS Board of Directors is permitted to host 15 pub nights per year in the space, and the SFSS student groups are permitted to host 150 total — without being charged for the space.”
Baker said that The Study will host their own events and theme nights as well.
In addition to their pub services, a catering service will operate out of The Study’s kitchen. Janit Livera, who will run the catering division, explained to The Peak that “The Study will be our hub for anything in the Tri-Cities area and the SFU campus in particular.”
He noted that catering is expected to be in demand on campus, as faculty often use their offices for catered meetings.
Livera explained that the goal of the space was to have two different feels: the upstairs area is brighter and “more of the traditional study.” The bottom space, which is darker, “will give [students] the opportunity to be a bit more relaxed and let loose.”
In an interview with The Peak, Mark McLaughlin, Chief Commercial Services Officer of SFU Ancillary Services, outlined SFU’s main criteria in the search for a company to run the pub. Their criteria included friendly service, a menu with competitive pricing, happy hour options, an operator that would hire SFU students, a company with strong sustainability practices, ethical procurement of ingredients, and a community-minded company.
“We were very impressed by what the Joseph Richard Group put forth [ . . . ] it’s very much student focused.”
McLaughlin explained that although The Study is a liquor primary, minors will be allowed in accompanied by a parent or legal guardian until 10 p.m., which McLaughlin noted is good for families.
McLaughlin also said they are hoping to hold a few dry events, where they do not serve alcohol and allow guests of all ages to come in.
“Our goal has been to create a fun place on the Burnaby campus where students can meet up, make new friends, and enjoy the social aspects that are part of student life outside the classroom.”
In a phone interview with The Peak, the Executive Director of the Graduate Student Society (GSS) Pierre Cenerelli explained that while the GSS was consulted in the early stages of the decision-making process in the form of a presentation from the JRG group, the decision was entirely SFU’s in the end. Additionally, he said that graduate students were “not consulted in a systematic way.”
He noted that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the pub.
Rihani and Freedman said that “we would like to see more considerable efforts taken on behalf of ancillary services to involve students more broadly in meaningful decision-making.”
Rihani and Freedman explained that since the SFSS surrendered ownership of the pub to SFU following the closure of the Highland, they “have been largely kept out of the decision making process with respect to the opening of the pub.” They stated that their agreement with SFU included “the understanding that the pub would be opened promptly and that student groups and the SFSS Board would have access to the space, which to date has not occured [ . . . ] we are disappointed at how we came to today, and how long it took to come to the opening of this important student element.”
Cenerelli said that “it’s a bit of a mystery to me why it has taken them so many months.”
McLaughlin said that the opening of the pub took much longer than anticipated, and that “when you deal with old buildings you encounter problems. We lost some time with some of those issues.”
Despite the delay in opening the pub, Rihani and Freedman said that “We have begun to develop a positive relationship with Joseph Richards Group and look forward to building on that in the future.”
“What we really tried to do is create a vibrant hub here at the center of campus [ . . . ] we’re really focused on creating a great student experience,” said Mark McLaughlin.