By Liam Eagle
Renovations may be the path to profit for Oakham House.
After spending more than $500,000 fixing the place up in the past three years, RyeSAC has another $65,000 to $75,000 in renovations planned for the building, which is now turning a profit.
A few years ago, student council took over management of Oakham House, which was losing money and had accumulated a debt of $150,000.
This summer, the cafe, pub and several rooms have been earmarked for renovations. “The are that’s probably going to get the biggest facelift is the cafe,” said RyeSAC’s president David Steele. “It could serve groups better architecturally.”
One proposed change is to remove a wall and add a sliding partition that would divide the cafe into two rooms, allowing it to operate while providing another much-needed meeting room.
“The room is tired and run-down,” said Dale McNichol, Oakham House’s managing director, “and we would like to give customers that go into that room a better experience.”
Other renovation plans include repairs to two meeting rooms, making the third-floor washroom accessible to the disabled and adding more booth seats in the Ram in the Rye.
McNichol said the pub, which has a capacity of 160 people, seat around 100. “It’s become extremely popular and we don’t have enough seats.”
Some of Oakham House’s profits will help pay for the construction. Half of the establishment’s profits go to paying off its debt and the other half goes to RyeSAC as a management fee.
“RyeSAC hasn’t seen any of that [profit] though,” said Steele. “It’s being reinvested in Oakham House.”
At the end of the 1997/98 fiscal year, Oakham paid down $11,000 of its debt to RyeSAC. Steel said by the end of April, another $50,000 to $60,000 is expected to be paid back.
Even with the renovations, Steele said meeting space is tight at Oakham. He said when the Student Campus Centre is built next door in several years, services and meeting held there will ease the pressure.