TwelvEighty Bar & Grill has a fresh new café and study space complete with exposed brick, espresso goodness and plenty of outlets. The grand opening will be after the reading week.

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TwelvEighty, the McMaster Students Union-owned restaurant located in the basement of the McMaster University Student Centre, is now in service for the school year. But the Marauder's Nest, the café that will sit where the lounge area in TwelvEighty used to be, remains under construction.

In a report that D’Souza wrote to the Student Representative Assembly on June 14, entitled “1280 Café Capital Allocation,” D’Souza anticipated the TwelvEighty café to have its “official launch” in Sept. 2017.

Then, in Aug. 2017, in a report to the Silhouette, D’Souza stated that this date has been pushed back to the end of October. However, after the MSU hired an architect and project manager to spearhead the development of the café in late Aug. 2017, the café’s official launch date was pushed back even further.

“After consultations with the project manager we decided to instead act as the general contractor for this project and directly hire external or internal sub- contractors to carry out separate parts of the project. This would save us a large amount of funds but would ultimately lengthen the construction timeline to end of Oct. (as previously communicated to the SRA at the last meeting) to limit liability,” Daniel Tuba D’Souza, vice president (Finance) of the MSU wrote in a report to the Student Representative Assembly on Aug. 30.

According to D’Souza, after hiring the architect and project manager, the MSU had to modify the timeline for the Marauder's Nest construction schedule.

“We worked closely with the Architect and Construction team to ensure that we were getting the most value from our budget, prioritizing getting it done well and using the allocated funding effectively over rushing the construction phase,” D’Souza said.

A few months after the originally proposed launch date, Marauder's Nest is set to be operational by the end of the semester.

The café is being established, in part, to increase food accessibility on campus. Marauder's Nest will offer students coffee, tea and lunch foods, including wraps, toasted paninis and bagel sandwiches, at prices that are more affordable than La Piazza, Starbucks and the TwelvEighty Bar & Grill, but less affordable than Union Market.

“This new café will be a unique and exciting space for students to hang out and study while indulging in the best-valued food and caffeinated beverages on campus. We worked with an incredibly talented Architect who has designed some of the most popular cafes and restaurants in Hamilton and are excited to unveil the space to students upon its completion,” D’Souza said.

“I am very excited about the enhanced capacity, service offerings and value that this new café and lounge space will provide to students.”

Admidst construction, the café will not open in the near future. Although students can look forward to Marauder's Nest affordability, should they wish to eat lunch in the MUSC, for a while, students will have to stick with their preferred but more expensive lunch spot.

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On June 18, the Student Representative Assembly of the McMaster Students Union met to discuss a number of points. One of the most substantial points to come out of this meeting was the unanimous vote in favour of, “1280 Café Capital Allocation (Marauders Nest Project).”

There are two main phases this. Daniel D’Souza, vice-president (Finance), explained the perspective that the MSU took to start these projects.

“Our mindset is being able to provide the best value to students. Not necessarily the most fancy options, but the most affordable options.”

The first phase deals with preparation space and the café, and will cost $99 000.

This preparation space will be a created area in the back storage room of Union Market to provide items in house for the café, detailed in the second phase, and to expand Union Market’s food offerings.

“The idea is that sandwiches can be made in TwelvEighty, but they can be packaged in Union Market,” said D’Souza.

D’Souza stated that the plan for this may change over the next few months, but currently stands as a way to reduce expenses. As detailed in the proposal, sandwiches from TwelvEighty are better quality and less expensive, $1.60 at cost, than the alternative, but are unable to produce during the year due to how busy they are with their own operations. Taro, the supplier for the academic year, provides the quantity at a $2.25 price point.

The proposal also mentions that sandwiches are one of their top selling items in the summer due to their affordable price and quality.

The expected immediate savings during the school year from making them in house is calculated to be $8060, and the profit increase during the school year is calculated to be $45 384.

The café itself will be located where the side bar and current unused lounge space in TwelvEighty currently is with a lot of promises based on student feedback.

“Some of the reoccurring themes that we see are, one, price. That food is way too expensive on campus. Two is when it comes down to the cheaper foods, there aren’t many healthy options. And three was dietary restrictions and culturally appropriate foods,” said D’Souza.

He expanded on the last point by stating how there were a limited amount of healthy halal options available and a large lack of kosher food on campus. He also highlighted the lack of choice that can come with using a meal card plan.

“There are a couple of areas around campus that are quite successful at that. When you look at My Dog Joe or Brown Dog Café, but there’s no feeling like that on campus. I think that’s the niche that this fills."

Daniel D'Souza

Vice president (Finance)

McMaster Students Union

The intended purpose of the café is to satisfy a lot of the middle ground that currently exists with food options on campus. Its target price level will be between Union Market and TwelvEighty as is, will be ideal for hour or two hour long breaks between classes and for students that want the flexibility to sit down and study or get a grab and go hot lunch at that lower price.

“There are a couple of areas around campus that are quite successful at that. When you look at My Dog Joe or Brown Dog Café, but there’s no feeling like that on campus. I think that’s the niche that this fills,” said D’Souza.

When it comes to the financials, a lot of it will be dependent on how successful the café is and what the demand will be for a relatively unknown entity. However, the break-even point is projected to be one-third of Union Market’s sales numbers during the school year.

In addition to this preparation space and the café, a longer term plan for online ordering is expected to roll out next year.

“The idea is that students will be able to order either through a website or an app for pickup,” said D’Souza.

While details are unclear this early in the process, there has been progress towards selecting the company that will design this system.

The second phase of all of this is to eventually expand the lounge space if the café is successful. This will be determined once the café has been completed and demand can be sufficiently measured, but it is a possibility down the line.

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Patrick Kim
The Silhouette

TwelvEighty has been approved for a new $7,000 permanent drape system, with the goal of improving its dining and catering services.

The SRA passed the motion brought forth by VP (Finance) Jeffrey Doucet with a near unanimous vote on Feb. 9. The proposal involves a permanent installation of a retractable pipe and drape system that will separate the restaurant from the open dance floor.

Kaley Stuart, TwelvEighty’s Service Manager, said that this will be the largest addition to TwelvEighty since she took the reigns of the restaurant.

“We’re pretty excited about it, because when we’re open as a restaurant we can just keep that area divided and make the restaurant feel less massive,” she said.

The cost is expected to cover both the purchase of the drapes as well as the installation being done by AVTEK. The drapes will be black and will employ roller gliders to retract quickly and allow staff to set up and take away the drapes easily.

Campus events at TwelvEighty currently require drapes to be manually set up to partition the event from the restaurant. Stuart explained that each event requires anywhere from six to eight hours to set up the partitions.

“Instead of us paying the wages for somebody to come in and put the pipe and drape up every single time, it will be a permanent fixture that can be pulled out and pulled back,” she said.

The drape walls will also have built-in noise insulation, which will help TwelvEighty expand its catering service, which recently released its latest menu.

According to Doucet, this will “address the awkward dynamic that there is at TwelvEighty right now when there is a catered event operating during restaurant hours.”

“The lack of a physical barrier ruins the intimacy of the catered event, and more importantly, it allows sound to travel from the restaurant to the catered event,” he said

While the drape walls will be pulled back for club nights and other social events held at TwelvEighty, the drapes are otherwise expected to become a permanent addition to the setting of the restaurant. Drawing from the use of similar drapes at previous events, Doucet stated, “We have received very positive feedback about how it looks.”

In addition to providing a more intimate setting for events, Stuart also described the possibility of the space becoming a casual study and eating location for students to use.

“Once the area is sealed off, then the rest of the week it can be used for pretty much anything…  The more people we get in and out of our doors, the more useful we are to the student population.”

The drape wall is planned to be installed by the end of March.

Starting in May, no one under 19 will be allowed into club nights at TwelvEighty.

The rule change does not apply when the campus bar is acting “in the capacity of a restaurant or a bookable venue.” Campus groups that book the space for an evening event, then, could invite students of all ages.

But when TwelvEighty is operating normally as a nightclub, which it typically does on Thursday nights, no minors will be permitted to enter.

“We’re going to have a little shift in how we operate the nightclub now. Time will have to tell what that means in terms of our operations, in terms of our reach,” said Derek Spekkens, service manager at TwelvEighty.

The change was made at the Nov. 25 Student Representative Assembly meeting, where members decided that the risks of letting 17- and 18-year-old students into the club outweighed the rewards.

The original proposal was to make the change effective Jan. 1, but members were wary of upsetting current underage students and preferred to wait until a new crop of first-years come to McMaster.

Currently, the bar allows a maximum of 25 underage patrons in at a time on typical club nights.

Before Spekkens and other members of the management took over, around when Quarters was re-branded to TwelvEighty in 2009, up to 50 minors were permitted to enter.

He explained that, to make the club nights more manageable, that number was decreased, and all patrons (not just underage ones) were given coloured wristbands to help bartenders make age distinctions. Alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic ones are also served in different sized cups so that security can tell if a minor is holding an alcoholic beverage.

“There have been steps to try to improve the offering and still keep it inclusive,” said Spekkens. But now that the SRA has made the change, “it will be our challenge as managers to keep this place a thriving business entity.”

Even the limited allowance of minors has made the bar particularly popular among first-year students living in residence, many of whom would not otherwise be able to go to a nightclub.

A memo to the SRA from its Operations Committee, though, expressed concern that minors “create an added working pressure for staff that is a drain on time and resources” and that TwelvEighty takes on the liability of first-years coming into the bar, many of whom might have consumed alcohol beforehand.

The memo also pointed out, though, that despite frequent visits by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, TwelvEighty hasn’t received a license suspension since 2007.

Under current operating policies, a minor “found consuming alcohol, in possession of alcohol, or show[ing] signs of past consumption of alcohol” must attend an alcohol awareness seminar and be barred from the club until their twentieth birthday. According to the memo submitted to the SRA, enforcement has been lax on these and similar penalties.

Spekkens acknowledged that the alcohol awareness “should be more robust … It’s definitely not something that TwelvEighty has been structured or directed to run.”

Spekkens did, though, point to the multiple levels of security, both in the bar and on campus, that allows TwelvEighty to provide a safe environment at club nights. “The purpose of being in this environment is to come of age and learn about responsibility and consequences,” he said.

All-ages or not, the TwelvEighty management team will continue working to offer students a positive experience.

“At the end of the day,” added Spekkens, “do students remember that third-year calculus class, or do they remember that amazing Halloween party they had at TwelvEighty?”

Nolan Matthews and Jay Scherer

Kardinal Offishall rocked TwelvEighty on Nov. 4, bringing hits like “Body Bounce” and “The Anthem” to McMaster. Though the bar wasn’t totally packed, both Kardinal’s and the crowd’s energy was high. Even through the smoke machines and strobe lights, it was pretty easy to see why Kardinal Offishall dominates the Canadian hip-hop scene.

“I’m from the T-dot-O, rep it everywhere I go,” sung Kardinal on recent single “The Anthem.” His Canadian roots have always been an important part of his music. “We all came up during this whole independent surge … and for the most part it was a strong scene, and that’s really what, for my generation, sealed the love for Toronto,” said Kardinal in an interview with ANDY after the show.

The “independent surge” Kardinal describes happened in the late 1990s, and was responsible for bringing Canadian hip-hop international recognition. “That was a crazy time for us and we were super blessed … our crew had super talented people. It wasn’t just like it was one of us that was doing big things at the time, there was a gang of us that was doing shit.”

With the help of the track “Dangerous”, Kardinal went from being a Canadian success to being known just about everywhere. “Dangerous” became the first song by a Canadian hip-hop artist to chart on the American Billboard Hot 100 singles list, and much of the song’s appeal comes from the catchy R&B chorus sung by Akon.

But the partnership between Kardinal and Akon has led to more than just an international hit song. “He really just mentored me and opened doors to a lot of different things … Akon is a really cool dude and just taught me a lot over the years about breaking into the mainstream in a big way.”

Kardinal has definitely broken into the mainstream with his album Not 4 Sale, but it took years for him to reach this level of commercial success.

“When you saw someone else who was doing their thing … they had to put thousands and thousands of dollars into getting their music out there. You emailed somebody and a DJ emailed you back and was like ‘that shit is crazy,’ you had to buy that plane ticket, literally carry your fuckin’ 12 inches to LA, and give each DJ two copies.”

Though it’s been about three years since Not 4 Sale, the wait for a new Kardinal Offishall album isn’t due to a lack of inspiration. “I just keep making so much music and it’s from so many different influences. I worked with people from Paris, England, Amsterdam, the States, Canada, literally everywhere … Fans don’t understand it, they’re like ‘where the eff is the album?’ but I’m just having too much fun and its hard to decide what you want to come out with.”

Despite travelling the world and making hit records, Kardinal keeps it modest. “Some people want to make ‘x’ amount of money, some people want to achieve a certain amount of fame, but for me this is the best blessing, to be able to pay all my bills, be comfortable, and just rock out like tonight and have fun.”

But rocking out isn’t all Kardinal does. “We actually went to Africa, to Kenya, and visited the drought-affected regions and … this past year I worked with so many different people from Free the Children, to One by One, to World Vision, the list goes on … it’s really nothing to be able to spread my blessings and to help other people.”

After the show, Kardinal remarked, “McMaster was dope.” Thanks, Kardinal. We thought you were pretty dope too.

 

 

 

 


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