Following a summer of renovations, the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) Building now features a new selection of restaurants in its second-floor cafeteria as well as a refurbished Gerts bar. While SSMU executives have been planning changes to Gerts for three years, the new restaurants in the food court were only selected within the last year, after the previous tenants’ contracts expired.
According to Shyam Patel, former SSMU VP Finance and Operations, the bar in Gerts was relocated to the center of the room to allow more efficient service through a better use of space.
“Before, the bar was sort of against the wall … It took up a lot of space,” said Patel, who was involved in the decision-making process for the renovation. “There are more seats now, it’s on the opposite side of the room, and it’s shaped like a horseshoe.”
The new shape of the bar is designed to facilitate the movement of the Gerts staff, and to help them serve more customers faster. Other changes include the removal of a wall to make room for a kitchen, where food is now sold.
Despite the changes, Gerts Manager Natasha Geoffrion-Greenslade said efforts were made to ensure that Gerts still felt like the same bar students were used to in previous years.
“My one hope in this project was to preserve the essence of Gerts while updating it a little bit, giving it a fresh look,” Geoffrion-Greenslade said. “But it definitely still feels like Gerts.”
SSMU President Josh Redel estimated the cost of the renovations to be around $450,000.
Unlike the student bar, the second floor cafeteria has not changed its layout. The cafeteria’s three restaurants have been replaced with three new ones chosen by SSMU executives over the past year—Lola Rosa Xpress, Bamboo Bowl, and Bocadillo.
The new tenants of the SSMU cafeteria have signed a one-year, short-term contract, so that SSMU executives can receive student input regarding what they like or dislike about the new selection of restaurants, enabling them to adjust accordingly for the following year.
“[The contracts are] just for the year so that we can actually get student consultation,” SSMU VP Clubs and Services Allison Cooper said. “We really want to gather information on what students want in their cafeteria, and if they want the [restaurants] that we selected.”
Problems arose this summer, however, when one of the planned tenants dropped out, requiring executives to find a new business to fill the empty space in the cafeteria.
“It was a big change from the original plans,” Cooper said. “One of [our original choices] fell through, so we had to find a third one. It was hard to get a new tenant so last minute, but we’re generally really excited.”
Lola Rosa’s Manager Pascal Hourriez emphasized the restaurant’s assortment of healthy, home-made, and freshly-served foods.
“We have a restaurant on Milton already, and we want to respect its image as much as possible,” Hourriez said. “Our mission is to be the best vegetarian restaurant for non-vegetarian people.”
Communications student Joceline Andersen expressed appreciation for the vegetarian emphasis in the new selection of cafeteria restaurants.
“I liked that there were lots of vegetarian options,” Andersen said. “It’s better than what I expected. I expected something mushy and bland, but it was good!”