Unibar: Grime to Gastro Pub?

Words by Rhys Morgan

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Photo by Rhys Morgan

The 2nd of November 2018 might go down in history as the worst day on campus; the day the UniBar closed down. The end of a 30 year era, and gone with it the promise of a cheap, inclusive and casual university bar.

Over the years, the UniBar had come to symbolise the true essence of the University. Seeing so many cheerful faces after a day of study was a sight to behold, and your dog tag could open up a world of discounted bargains. Whether it was bingo games or discounted chicken schnitzel combos, you could spend time with your mates without having to worry about the assignments due the next day, or the exams around the corner.

Though the old, treasured UniBar of Level 4 has closed, there is some solace in the knowledge that it will be replaced on the lower level of Union House, in what was once the Mayo Cafe. However, with new proprietors and the upcoming presence of the Royal Croquet Club on campus, students and staff alike are beginning to question the University faculty’s decision. In the University’s strategic plan, Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen has outlined his vision for the public to interact on campus, creating a more open space. The new UniBar seems like the perfect addition to encourage this intermingling. However, we have to question whether the University is prioritising profits from the UniBar’s privatisation over the interests of students.

The big question is, what will the new UniBar and its proprietors offer? General Admissions Entertainment, the new UniBar owner, is a reputable company run by three dashing young blokes. Their promise is to keep a local focus and deliver quality events like those they have run in the past, including Groovin’ the Moo, the Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival and The Kings Head. The promising theme of these events is the goal of bringing South Australians together for the benefit of the local hospitality and entertainment industry, but their proposal raises a lot of questions. Namely, will the University’s attempt to appeal to the wider Adelaide market disenfranchise its core student demographic?

With the presence of the Royal Croquet Club on campus throughout February and March, it may feel like a takeover as the contemporary ‘hipster’ vibes of the RCC intermingle with the new UniBar. The ‘alternative’ atmosphere evoked by RCC headliners ‘Beach House’ and ‘Pussy Riot’ do not align with the University’s traditional pub culture. This culture is developed by the students, not by faculty staff who dictate what is hot and what is not. I’m sure everyone can agree that the last thing we need is another gastro-pub with a high price point and too many gimmicks. The UniBar needs to both maintain its affordability and draw in a larger audience.

The new UniBar is going to be a ‘hit or miss’ story. Without the nostalgia necessary to ingrain it in university culture, will the UniBar be replaced with another transient trend? The new UniBar will either hit it off with the University population, or fail to rake in numbers and suffer from the initial backlash.

Personally, I have full faith in the new UniBar. Hit or miss, I’ll be there after a long day on the books.

Written by

Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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