Over the course of the summer there have been significant changes to the well-known campus pub, Heroes. The change of name from Heroes to The Den, which builds on the TRU WolfPack theme, and new liquor license is meant to put more emphasis on improving the social atmosphere on campus outside of class. Depending on how WolfPack teams fare throughout the season, The Den may even broadcast games.
Glenn Read, director of ancillary services for TRU, said the vast majority of the nearly 900 students living on campus are under the age of 19, which indicated a need to change the liquor licence from liquor-primary to food-primary.
With the once wild and more party-focused establishment Heroes in the past, Read wants it to now be a social gathering place for all students and more inclusive.
To cater to students’ preferences, The Den will be improving the selection of TV programming available in the restaurant, adding local craft beers to draft selection and changing the menu as students give feedback. However, “it’s not going to be a Cactus Jacks. It’s not the style. If that’s what the students want then they can continue to go there,” Read said.
A liquor-primary licence restricted the restaurant to serving only of-age patrons, however now with the food-primary licence students will be able to order food and a beer alongside their peers who can only order a non-alcoholic beverage.
The Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union has, in the past, brought attention to the lack of food services available to students in the evenings.
“What we’ve heard a lot is that things aren’t open late enough,” Read said. “The numbers don’t support that – there’s virtually no business on campus after five o’clock.”
Despite the lack of students on campus, The Den os hoping to become the exception and will now be open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
“To respond to our student body, we have the Den open to 10 o’clock. We’re just trying to make it into a social gathering place,” Read said, adding that they are also working with the student residences to attract those students, as well.
The change of hours has been recognized as a step in the right direction by TRUSU. Speaking with student caucus chair Michael Zaitlin, he recognized the extended hours were a positive change and that TRUSU hopes to see more food services on campus following suit.
“It is difficult to access food services during [students] full hours of activity on campus, whether they want a meal at the pub, a sandwich between classes, or a quick coffee,” he said, citing the student budget consultation done by TRUSU.
In an email to The Omega, Zaitlin wrote “students identified improvements to food services as their top priority in the most recent student budget consultation. One of their main concerns is hours of operation, along with variety and options; price, value, and food quality; and lines and wait times.”
“What we know for certain is that campus life suffers without this option, so we are supportive of the initiative Mr. Reed and Ancillary Services are showing here,” Zaitlin wrote.
Students on campus shared some of their thoughts on the change with The Omega.
Sam Baker, a fourth-year student says she’s been to Heroes in the past a couple of times but mostly just for food.
“My roommates used to go all the time and party at the Wednesday parties they used to have… but that was a long time ago, like six or seven years ago,” she told The Omega.
Recognizing that Heroes has not been a place for partying in recent years Sam said she approves of the change to make The Den more of a restaurant.
Fourth-year student Ben Froese has managed to go four years at TRU without stepping foot in Heroes, but he is aware of some of the frustrations students faced when the campus pub was still operating under a liquor-primary license.
“There are 17-year-old students and I know there are some classes where they’ll have student discussions at heroes and kids can’t go,” Froese said.