Gerts Café opened for its second year of business on Sept. 20 after being closed since May. The café, the daytime counterpart of Gerts Campus Bar, is located in the basement of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) University Centre at 3480 McTavish Street.
Ben Hack, BA ’21 and a Gerts Café supervisor, explained that the café’s closure over the summer and delayed reopening were due to broken appliances and staffing issues. But since the bar’s opening on Aug. 24, the staff decided to open the café a week early as they felt it was wasteful to only use the space after 4 p.m.
“It’s been going fairly well,” Hack said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “We’ve pretty much been reaching the sales that we had consistently last year. It’s been very popular based on that alone so we’re very excited.”
Hack, who worked in food preparation at Gerts last year, prioritizes affordability, nutritional value, and variety when creating the menus for both Gerts Café and Bar by offering vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Despite inflation, Gerts has kept the same prices as last year for drinks from the espresso bar and grilled cheeses.
“Nobody has any predictions [about] how things are going to go, but again, the goal is to always keep the cheapest and most affordable [prices] for the students.”
Arin Yaffe, U1 Engineering, prefers Gerts to other coffee shops around the city. Yaffe finds the drinks to be fairly priced for students and believes that the live music makes Gerts a refreshing space for studying.
“I feel like [at] most cafés I go to, it’s definitely not as lively a feeling,” Yaffe said. “If I’m at a library all day, it’s too much for me so I like to change it up.”
On opening day, Gerts Café invited local music collective Barney & Friends to play live jazz from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Barney & Friends is a collective of McGill musicians who typically perform at Dépanneur Café every Saturday at 2 p.m. On the day of Gerts Café’s opening, Jeremy Roffman, a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Violet Massie-Vereker, U3 Arts, took the stage on behalf of the group.
Rachel Kalmanovich, BA ’22 and a café supervisor, revealed that Gerts Café is hoping to invite more local musicians to perform as a weekly feature this year.
“The top things that we all care about here are making sure we are a safe and accessible place for students, that this is a fun place to work for employees, and that we’re always doing something interesting,” Kalmanovich told the Tribune.
To spread the word around campus, Gerts has also announced a Tote Bag Design Contest. The contest winner will receive a $50 gift card, and the two runner-ups will receive smaller prizes. All three winners will receive a tote bag with the winning design. The café will take submissions until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30.