The Spoke is set for a facelift in the summer of 2017 after raking in a significant amount of revenue for the USC over the past five years.
During a board of directors meeting last Friday, senior manager of USC Hospitality Services Mark Leonard, explained his ideas for a major kitchen renovation. Also proposed was a renovation to the floor plan in order to maximize use of the space in regards to increasing seating capacity and better accommodate line sizes.
Overall, the hope is that the renovation will provide both an effective and aesthetic improvement.
The kitchen renovations are estimated to cost around $500,000 and other renovations at around $300,000-$500,000. This would mean that almost $1 million could be spent on the Spoke over the summer.
Leonard also considered implementing an app for The Spoke which would allow students to order food through their smartphones for pick up later. Whether or not that app will be through Hangry or a separate app is still undecided.
According to Leonard, The Spoke rebounded financially after years of losing money.
“When we started looking at The Spoke five years ago we were actually in trouble,” Leonard said during the meeting. “The Spoke was in a place where it was losing in the $75,000 to $100,000 a year range.”
However, Leonard said that now The Spoke is generating approximately $3.5 million per year and could continue to grow with the right influx of money and a proper renovation.
Jeff Armour, chief operating officer of the USC, said that as far as a small restaurant goes — a 'mom and pop shop' as he describes it — The Spoke is “by far one of the busiest restaurants in the city if not the busiest. The volume that goes through here — our suppliers are shocked.”
When the kitchen was first built 15 years ago, the dynamic of the restaurant was very different. Leonard stated that approximately 70 per cent of the revenue came from alcohol sales while 30 per cent came from food.
This meant that the kitchen was used less and for small foods like poutines and fries.
Currently, The Spoke is nearly at 80 per cent food sales and to accommodate for that difference the kitchen requires a significant overhaul.
“The kitchen is bursting at the seams,” Leonard said. “The amount of product that we’re bringing in — we literally don’t have storage space to house that product.”
While the kitchen is the major focus of the renovation, the increase in revenue allows for the directors to consider a more holistic approach.
“We’re more than afloat now,” Armour said during the meeting. “We’re in a position where we can capitalize on volume, looking at how we can have faster lines and servicing better and all the rest of it.”
Leonard believes that the wait times could be improved significantly by improving kitchen resources.
"Right now people are waiting roughly 25 minutes for table service and 15 minutes for quick service. After the renovations, however, Leonard hopes to reduce that wait time to 12 to 15 minutes and for quick service 5 to 7 minutes."
The timeline of the project is currently in its beginning stages. Leonard predicts that renovations won’t start until May 1, 2017 and will be completed on Sept. 1, 2017. Until then, he and his team still need to contact designers and consultants as well as figure out how this will fall in line with the budget. As of yet, everything is still subject to change.