New Grad House 'not big enough'

Former Dalhousie students compare new Grad House to old

Bartender Chelsea Hartlen pours a pitcher of beer. (Photo by: Dave Lalonde)

Renovations at the Grad House are nearly complete. However, patrons say the amount of space in the bar is still an issue.

The Dalhousie University pub was supposed to hold 100 people when its doors opened in September. The current occupancy is only half that.

The Grad House moved to a new building at 1252 Lemarchant St. when the old Grad House began to fall apart and became too expensive to bring up to code. Some Dalhousie graduates aren't happy with the new version.

"It's just not big enough and it doesn't feel like a campus pub anymore," says Derek Leduc, who graduated from Dalhousie earlier this year. He said he had gone to the old Grad House many times as a student, and so far the new version doesn't compare.

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"It feels more like Starbucks than a university pub."

In its current state the Grad House is only one floor, divided into two areas. Each space is filled with so many tables and chairs that it can be hard to get around.

Mark Jurkovic, the general manager of the Grad House, says work is being done to expand the bar's occupancy. A back deck was added, and work is currently underway on a new conference room upstairs. The room will be available for parties and is expected to open early in the new year.

Jurkovic says once the upstairs is open the Grad House will have room for 100 people, the number many people expected it would hold all along.

Leduc says that the new Grad House will be improved once more space is available, and that the bar needs time to develop its own sense of character, something he feels the old Grad House had a lot of.

Julia Pelton graduated from Dalhousie in 2008. She went to the old Grad House many times as a student and isn't happy with the amount of space in the new one. "They took something that was like a three-floor house to one floor that has no floor space," she says.

Rob Griffith, a recent Dalhousie graduate, preferred the look of the old Grad House. "It's almost sterile here," he said, gesturing towards the bar's clean-cut appearance.

It was announced initially that the new Grad House would open in September 2009. However, numerous delays would postpone the opening until a full year later.

Charles Crosby, Dalhousie's spokesman, says the main reason for the delays was a miscommunication between the school and the Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students regarding the bar's occupancy. The association runs the Grad House and had to ask the university to fund the new bar.

Crosby said it was going to cost the university more to renovate the old building than to move the Grad House to a new space.

In 2008, the cost of potential renovations for the old Grad House was estimated at $750,000. The estimated cost of moving to a new site was $450,000.

Crosby says all the renovations of the new Grad House ended up costing around $800,000.

The Grad House has already played host to a few small events, but Jurkovic says that once the new space is opened the bar will be able to take larger event bookings.


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