Unibar — A Saucy Affair
Words by Nicholas Birchall
As Uni students, ‘value for money’ is always one of our top considerations when purchasing anything. At the end of 2018, we learned that the pseudo-pub on campus, affectionately known as ‘Unibar’, would soon have a new home and new management. For some, this sparked outrage, fearful of losing something deemed of personal and cultural significance to the University. Others welcomed this change, unsatisfied with the current state of affairs. As a first year student at the time, my love for cheap beer and pub-grub in between classes (sometimes during classes), as well as good music, gigs, and vibes had given the Unibar a soft spot in my heart, liver and waistline. This proposed change had me fearful of the unknown.
When the new proprietors of Unibar (affectionally known as ‘Newnibar’) were announced, their vision of a campus bar/gastropub/speak-easy appealed to me, and I waited with quiet optimism. However, upon its arrival, it became obvious to me, as well as many, many others that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Between school cafeteria vibes, specials and AUU member discounts that seemingly changed on a whim, as well as schnitzels the size of chicken tendies, and burgers that looked more like burnt meatballs, Newnibar’s foray into “Gastropub”, had started off…rocky, to say the least. Coupled with this, prices had been moderately increased, with jugs of the ‘beer of the month’ being elevated from $11, to $14, and chicken schnitzel, with chips, salad, and gravy, going from $11, to $15 without gravy, and $16.50 with. This sparked outrage amongst students, many of whom took to social media to voice their displeasure, some even calling for a boycott of Newnibar.
Over time, this anger subsided, regular specials became set, and apart from the occasional post on ‘Overheard at University of Adelaide’ complaining about one thing or another, the mass-outrage subsided. People began drinking elsewhere, frequenting other places for lunch, or otherwise ultimately accepting the state of Newnibar.
However…there have been developments. As of at least the time of this article’s publication, (28th of January, 2020), Newnibar has began charging for tomato sauce.
Did you just spend $15 on an undersized, overcooked chicken schnitzel, as well as paying the extra $1.50 for gravy? Do you just want a bit of tomato sauce on your chips? Well, I hope you can afford it. It will cost you.
I think it’s important to recognise why I bothered writing this piece. Ultimately, I don’t care about charging extra for sauce, I don’t care about putting beer prices up, I don’t care about undersized schnitzels. Or…at least I wouldn’t, if Newnibar wasn’t effectively a monopoly at University.
Unibar should be a place that can accommodate any student, regardless of financial position. One should not be prohibited from socialising with friends in a public setting (least of all the university they are already paying thousands, sometimes tens of thousands to attend) due to their finances.
In the past, Unibar was run with the slimmest of profit margins, to pass these fantastic prices onto students and these changes only serve to exclude a population of students. At the end of the day, that’s who a proper University bar should be for, students.
Yes, people will say that I’m an ‘entitled Uni student’, and that ‘there are more important things I could be doing with my time’, but I know that this is something that is not only important to me, but a lot of other students as well. It was shown that an institution like Old Unibar could operate effectively, and still provide quality food and drink at reasonable prices. This venture with Newnibar is only symptomatic of the University’s increased corporatisation.
The powers that be have declared that they wanted to make Newnibar more appealing to the general public. I say that they have missed the point.