Reggie’s to Open in Late October, CUSACORP to Dissolve in Winter

Council Approves Budget to Hire a General Manager and Other Expenses, Bar to Transition into a Not-For-Profit

  • File photo from a previous Concordia Student Union Council meeting. Photo Laura Lalonde

Students should have a newly renovated and redesigned bar and eatery on the downtown campus by late October, according to Concordia Student Union President Terry Wilkings.

Closed since October 2013, Reggie’s—located next to the Hive Café on the Mezzanine level of the Hall Building—will open approximately a month after construction is completed by the end of September, Wilkings says.

“It’s almost been an entire generation of students who have never been to Reggie’s,” he said.

The bar will be operated by a new, not-for-profit entity as the CSU is planning to dissolve its old for-profit entity, CUSACORP, which has been inactive since May 2014.

The long-awaited project of the CSU has experienced slight delays after Katherine Soad Bellini, former VP Clubs and Internal Affairs, told The Link in May that it would open in September.

“[The month’s time] is going to allow us to open it in a way that we’re not scrambling,” Wilkings said.

The Hive Café will reopen around school’s start on Sept. 8 because it already has a staff and governance structure in place, Wilkings says. The Hive underwent renovations because it shared bathrooms with Reggie’s and needs to be completely separate to fulfill the requirements of alcohol licensing laws.

At the special session held last Wednesday, councillor Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis addressed council with the hope that steps will be taken to make sure Reggie’s is a safe and inclusive space for all students.

Wilkings says that a new logo, banning the sale of pitchers of alcohol and sensitivity training for the staff will ensure that Reggie’s is a welcoming space for all.

“Excessive drinking will not be promoted at Reggie’s, unlike in the past,” he said.

AWAKENING OF CUSACORP AND ITS NEAR DEMISE

To have Reggie’s open by October, council also needed to approve a motion to “awaken” the CSU-run, for-profit entity known as CUSACORP. CSU executives Wilkings, VP Finance Anas Bouslikhane and VP Clubs and Internal Affairs Lori-Marie Dimaria will run the entity as its temporary board of directors.

The new direction is temporary because the CSU has a framework in place to dissolve CUSACORP and transfer its assets to a new not-for-profit entity in the winter.

CUSACORP is still affiliated with the incorporated liquor and business boards, the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, and the Registraire des enterprises, which allows for a “degree of acceleration” in opening Reggie’s, according to Wilkings.

The CSU will sub-lease Reggie’s space from CUSACORP at a “fair market rate.” This will allow the space to receive tax recuperation for the $1.4-million project cost that only profit-driven entities can earn, according to the proposal approved on Wednesday.

Wilkings says Reggie’s failed in the past because it had to make profits and couldn’t, and this led to the CSU covering any deficit. As a not-for-profit, he’s hopeful that focusing on “financial and social sustainability” will allow any surplus to be put back into the community.

“CSU culture avoids making profit off student activity,” he said. “We shouldn’t be making a profit off of a service students desire.”

A board of nine directors will govern Reggie’s. Four of the directors will be undergraduate students and two will be non-undergraduate students from the “local community.”

The remaining directors include a CSU executive, the CSU general manager and an employee from the bar that is not the GM. The Reggie’s GM will be expected to attend board meetings, however.

REGGIE’S TO GET A FINANCIAL HEAD START

At a special session on Wednesday, CSU council approved a motion to take $98,000 from its Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency (SSAELC) fund for “start-up and transition costs” of Reggie’s.

The SSAELC fund collects fees from students for space-related initiatives run by the CSU.

In its general election last semester, the CSU had a referendum question asking for $1.2 to 1.8 million out of the SSAELC fund to be used for Reggie’s renovations approved by the student body. That was approximately 15 per cent of the fund.

Council chose construction firm Doverco at a cost of $1.4 million during a special closed session in May.

“Doverco has been extremely professional,” Wilkings said, adding that they have weekly meetings to check progress.

In a proposal presented to council, the recently approved $98,000 is divided into four parts: approximately $40,000 for general equipment, $10,000 to hire a project manager and for promotions, $10,000 for legal fees and another $40,000 for Reggie’s operational startup, which will cover a predicted first year lost of $4,000, $30,000 worth of initial inventory and $6,000 for a emergency contingency fund.

Interviews to hire a project manager, who will then transition into the bar’s general manager, will begin this week, according to Wilkings. The GM will receive a salary totaling $7,400, which is necessary so that they can begin working, creating a menu and hiring staff, Wilkings adds.

The GM must have a minimum of two years experience in the bar or entertainment industry, according to the job description written by the CSU.

Outside of the GM’s approved initial salary, Reggie’s staff will not be financed by the CSU. Part of the reasoning behind providing $40,000 for startup costs is to allow their first months’ worth of revenue to go directly to salaries, Wilkings says.

The batch of food and alcohol purchases will “basically be free” so the bar can focus on maximizing profits and develop a base of clients, Wilkings adds.

The staff will be comprised of the GM, bar manager, kitchen manager, bookkeeper, cooks, servers, bartenders and bussers.

Wilkings says CSU executives are aware that the new Burritoville solidarity co-op—which the CSU financed $100,000 for last semester—is opening soon, and they’re wary of creating a competitive environment.

“There will be a high degree of communication between the establishments to work in a collaborative way,” he said, listing the Hive Café as another potential conflict.

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