Degrees’ is currently going through the process of applying for a cocktail lounge licence so students will be able to purchase liquor without food.
University of Manitoba Students’ Union president Heather Laube explained that the licence application has been referred to the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) and would be reviewed in early February.
“Several students and student groups made it clear that despite Wise Guys’ failing, they did prove an unique service to the campus community that was no longer being fulfilled,” Laube explained.
With the closure of Wise Guys in fall 2010, the only place on campus where alcohol is served without food is Bistro Two-O-Five, which is only open during lunch hours, when most students are in class.
Degrees’ currently only has a dining room licence, which only allows it to serve alcohol with food.
Laube said that UMSU had attempted to obtain a cocktail lounge licence in the past, but because of the lease agreement between the university and Wise Guys, this was not possible.
“The wording in the lease for Wise Guys and the University Centre Management Agreement combined to prevent us from applying for said licence,” explained Laube.
With Wise Guys closed, the road is clear for UMSU to obtain the licence for Degrees.
“We are hopeful that the board will approve our application. The university administration has formally endorsed our application, and we look forward to Degrees being able to fill this gap in on-campus service until such time as a campus pub can be re-opened,” said Laube.
Laube hopes that this action serves as a short-term measure to provide students with something akin to a pub on campus, until UMSU opens the planned student-owned pub in University Centre.
If the new licence goes through, Degrees’ will have an 18+ seating section where students can enjoy alcohol without food, but aside from that Laube says the campus eatery will function and remain the same.
The MLCC offers 11 different licences for everything from alcohol service at military or police canteens, to airports and railway companies. Most of the licences cost either $300 or $500 annually.
Degrees’ current dinning room licence has a $300 annual fee, and requires that the establishment has a kitchen and dining facilities. The establishment must also have a menu with a minimum of five different multi-component meal choices. The cocktail lounge licence for which UMSU is applying for will cost $500 annually.
Both licences allow liquor to be served between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and from noon to midnight on Sundays. The cocktail lounge licence also requires that the maximum capacity of the lounge cannot exceed the seating capacity of the dining room area.
A spokesperson from the MLCC explained that the length of time it would take for the application to be approved depended not only on Degrees conforming to the MLCC requirements, but also that they adhered to the requirements outlined by other bodies such as the fire department.
Once the MLCC approves an application, the applicant has about six months to meet other requirements, before the approval lapses. Once all requirements are met, the licence is granted.
If everything is in order, the licence would be granted within a few months after the application is filed.
Most students the Manitoban spoke with liked the idea of Degrees having a lounge area, but one student pointed out that it might change the atmosphere at Degrees.
Michelle Saromo, a second year linguistics major, felt that having a pub or place to drink on campus would be nice, because most universities have one, but using Degrees’ to fulfill that need might not be a good idea.
“Many people go there to study or to talk with their friends, and if you had people who were just ordering drinks all the time and not eating, it might be a disruption to other people who weren’t there for just drinks,” explained Saromo.
Saromo hopes that the plans for a new pub are realized, so that Degrees can serve solely as a place to eat and hangout on campus, and not function as a campus watering hole.