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Student-Run Café to delay reopening until late September

The opening of the Student-Run Café (SRC) of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), The Nest, has been delayed until Sept. 29 after the SSMU executive team decided to afford more time to properly train Nest workers.

SSMU VP Finance and Operations Kathleen Bradley, former head chef of The Nest, explained that the applicant pool accrued over the summer was smaller than desired, as most students were not in Montreal during the time. According to Bradley, as the first SRC at McGill, The Nest’s success would depend on the quality of its service, and that it was imperative that a qualified and competent staff was hired.

“[The staff is] going to be working with money and food, so it’s a health and safety concern,” Bradley said. “We wanted to make sure we were able to do the hiring process to the best of our abilities, and to make sure that people [who] wanted to work at The Nest this year had the opportunity to apply if they weren’t here over the summer.”

Since its opening last January, the student-run endeavour has proved successful by the SRC’s standards, although improvements are still in order. A primary goal for the SRC this year is to make The Nest financially sustainable, without impinging on the quality of its service, a necessity for the SRC whose mandate requires that it break even each fiscal year.

“We lost $20,000 in our first semester of operation, which was understandable because we were learning and it was a new business,” Bradley said. “[But], the SRC as part of its mandate and every other operations mandate is set to break even so that will remain.”

Although an updated menu will be available come late September, according to Williams, more substantial changes will come once this feedback is obtained.

Increasing student engagement was another main objective for Bradley and her colleagues, and in this respect, the SRC will play a prominent role in promoting the wider SSMU initiative. Max Williams, the SRC’s outreach coordinator—a new position at The Nest this year—is tasked with engaging with and consulting the McGill student body for ways that The Nest can better serve the McGill community.

“I’d like to continue our Open Conversation events in order to gain feedback about our day-to-day operation, in addition to broader questions about the café,” Williams said.

He also hopes to see a greater social media presence, along with the regular mailing list and blog, which are already in place.

Although an updated menu will be available come late September, according to Williams, more substantial changes will come once this feedback is obtained.

Williams said he would also like to see a community function developing for The Nest outside of the existing café by co-sponsoring events with other student organizations.

“[This ranges from] talks on a real-world issue, to a dinner party catered by the café, to open mics or even concerts,” he said. “A huge amount of students are interested in these issues in some way, but they don’t always find each other because there’s so much going on. Having more opportunities to get these people in one room would be beneficial for these students and many student organizations on campus.”

Many students eagerly await The Nest’s return.

“I often went to The Nest with friends because I liked the vegetarian options they had,” Lucy Gripper, U2 Arts, said. “It’s difficult to find food that caters to my eating habits, especially at a reasonable price. I’m looking forward to The Nest reopening.”

Williams agreed with the sentiment, noting the importance of the SRC within SSMU and McGill.

“We’re committed to [bringing] healthy and affordable food options to students, and being a part of SSMU gives us an opportunity to be a hub and meeting-point for a huge variety of people and organizations,” he said. “I’m extremely excited for our reopening next month and the possibilities in the upcoming year.”

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