The Kansas Union will convert its first floor into a pub and programming event space starting in August in partnership with SUA and KJHK, according to J.J. O’Toole-Curran, Memorial Unions director of engagement and strategy.
“It’s really just to have something that keeps students on campus, that allows alumni a place to hang and have a reason to maybe catch a drink and meet people — it’s a great way for the community to come together,” said David Mucci, director of the Memorial Unions.
The space that currently houses the Student Ambassador office on the Union’s first floor will be converted into a pub run by KU Dining that will serve beer and wine, along with food options. The Student Ambassador office will be relocated.
KJHK and SUA will use the converted space for consistent programming events every Thursday night. The Union will also use the space on Saturdays for tailgating events before home football games.
“We feel like students today really need to know date, time and place — and that they know there’s always going to be something good happening there,” O’Toole-Curran said.
A few years ago, the University conducted a study as part of its master plan and identified ways to change the Union and its spaces. The study found the Union didn’t have a space well suited for programming, Mucci said.
“From a campus community standpoint, we’re missing some opportunities to connect with a lot of people and to connect a lot of people with one another,” Mucci said.
The first floor won’t receive many renovations, but the Union will instead work with the space already in place, which was previously Milton’s Coffee Shop before it was used by the Student Ambassadors.
The Union’s first floor has previously seen changes in recent years with the removal of the Jaybowl and conversion to The Jay.
This fall will be the first phase of the conversion for the first level, and if successful, the Union will move forward with plans for expansion and renovation, Mucci said. The new space could also host concerts, galleries and programs, along with other activities.
According to the University’s current alcohol policy, the Union and other University organizations can serve alcohol on campus at approved events. The Union also holds a liquor license that allows KU Dining to serve alcohol at select catering events, which would cover the alcohol that will be served at the pub.
O’Toole-Curran said the new space will elevate programming and “what the Union’s offering to the campus.”