Late Night at By George
Late Night began as the brainchild of Cullen White during his election campaign for the 2005-06 Board of Directors. He wanted to see a late night spot on campus for students to be able to hang out, study and get coffee. He felt that it would be a great benefit to the campus culture and really create more of a connection between the students and the campus. During Fall quarter, Cullen enlisted the help of the Finance & Budget Director to begin talking with Housing and Food Services about his idea. The ASUW was leaning more toward using an existing space for the project, rather than trying to open up a new coffee shop. Initial conversations with HFS were positive and began to center around using the space available at By George in order to pilot a late night coffee shop. The ASUW Board of Directors authorized nearly $3,000 from the General Fund in order to cover expenses for a one-month pilot program.
February 13, 2006 the Late Night at By George experiment began. Advertising had been going on for nearly a month and there was a bit of a delay in opening due to the difficulty installing a Husky Card scanner for security purposes. Cullen and David met with HFS frequently in order to go over the financial results of the project. There was some confusion in the early stages as to what the financial obligations were for each party.
Results at the beginning were a bit disheartening. With all of the various expenses allocated to the projects, it was not just as simple as revenues less food and labor costs. After the first month, Cullen and David decided with HFS to move forward through the end of the year to hopefully get a better picture of how the business would run as it became more familiar with the student body. As the year progressed, the numbers began to improve, especially durning finals weeks. There were time periods identified that were much lower performance than usual. These will most likely be times when Late Night is not open during the next year; make sure to get these hammered out with HFS.
Additional funds were authorized by the Board of Directors at the last meeting of 2005-06 in order to cover the remainder of the ~$5,000 loss that had accumulated since the operation opened. The Board Bill that approved this additional funding also included a variety of clauses that need to be taken into account when moving forward with the project:
- Partnerships with other campus entities, including but not limited to, OVPSL and the Libraries, shall be investigated next year in order to help defer some of the costs of operations
- If the endeavor is continued, a formal written contract shall be drafted between HFS and ASUW to draw out the specifics of any arrangement, to include the recovery of the $5,188.69 ASUW loss, and plans for sharing future profits
- The BOD recommends that if this endeavor is continued that Late Night at By George be converted to 100% Fair Trade certified coffee
Much of this work will happen over the summer and early Fall quarter. A contract needs to be drafted between ASUW and HFS if it is decided that this program will move forward (and I recommend it does). Marketing plans need to be compiled in order to reach out to the new freshman coming on campus. This group is going to be the best bet for making this a sustainable venture into the future. If the freshman can become habitized to coming to Late Night for studying, etc. while they are more centralized on campus, it will help to boost attendance as they move onto their sophomore, junior and senior years. Two of my recommendations for what to use in marketing materials for off-campus students are: free parking and free wireless internet (with UWNetID of course). These should be big draws for people who usually study at Starbucks in U-Village, or other similar coffee spots without easy parking and free internet.
Work extensively with Cullen and Scott on this in order to see it happen. I know Cullen is very passionate about it and will continue to be as it grows into a sustainable business. Keep in contact with HFS; your best contact will be Anita Bowers. Cullen already has a working relationship with her as well as a couple of others over at HFS, so he will be instrumental in keeping everyone focused and moving down the right path.