There was an aura of uncertainty surrounding the Gerts Students Bar as summer approached. Following the failure of the Building Referendum Fee last March, it appeared inevitable that price increases would hit Gerts. While there may have been some growing bar prices, Gerts has increased food and drink options, with more opportunities for groups to host events.
When the Building Fee failed to pass, former Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) former VP of Finance and Operations Tyler Hofmeister was forced to change SSMU’s budget in order to maintain the best level of service possible for SSMU and its services. As a result, Gerts’ budget was also changed in order to make a profit rather than break-even.
“It’s projected to make an almost $17,000 profit this year,” explained current VP Finance Kathleen Bradley. “Once [we] run the Building Fee again—and hopefully it does pass—we’ll be able to bring it down to a break-even point […. Students will] see some changes in terms of costs of certain things. They’ve increased the price on some of the beers, [but] that’s mostly because they cost more to buy now.”
While students are aware of these changes, it has not affected their interest in going.
“I’ve noticed a few changes to Gerts in the few weeks that I’ve been back to Montreal—the main one being the increase in beer prices,” said Josiah Ahm, U1 Management. “[However] I’ve found that the changes they’ve made are somewhat insignificant compared to the experience you consistently receive.”
Gerts has also tried to save money by becoming more efficient. This includes simple routines such as preventing beer waste by making sure that kegs are stored correctly, or ensuring that the pouring control system is being used at all times.
“None of the bartenders are drinking on shift [and] waste has gone down,” Bradley said. “[Waste] used to be pretty high, and now we’ve all but eliminated any sort of beer waste.”
Additionally, Gerts has added a few new food and drink options to its menu. Pizza has officially been introduced, with pepperoni and vegetarian options offered. The bar has also added Jack Daniels to its list of alcohol options.
Once SSMU’s student-run café, The Nest, opens later this month, Bradley hopes that the two restaurants can cooperate on projects throughout the year.
“I’m excited to see what the partnership between Gerts and The Nest will look like,” Bradley said. “Groups book Gerts for events and things. We’re looking if those groups are interested in catering, if the Nest could provide that service for them.”
The bar’s popular weekly deals and events will not be affected by budget cuts, with their popularity expected to grow.
“Sangria Wednesday is definitely our most popular night, followed by TNT Thursday,” said Devin Healy, a Gerts bartender. “We can tell [that] Wednesdays are the busiest due to our sales and attendance numbers. [The Sangria] deal caters to everyone, and judging by the number of pitchers we sell, it continues to be a hit with the student body.”
For now, it seems that Gerts has hardly been affected by the Building Fee, and will still be a campus staple for McGill students to enjoy.