The former Bar 3 space in the SUSU building has had a glamourous revamp in the form of a retro-diner, with a Hollywood twist. Last night was the launch night for what it sure to be a very successful year.
Chequerboard floors and red banquets make up the eye-catching new interior design. A Mingbella ice-cream parlour (very tasty, Sprinkles who?) resides now at the left-hand side of the bar, with interesting flavours like ‘The Mendoza-Wolfson’, ‘SUSU’s Special’ and ‘Bellini Classico Sorbet’. Intergrated into the right-hand side of the bar now is the Union Films concessions stand, which, with all the film memorabilia around the place, ties up the Hollywood theme very well. Diner-style tables have menus containing burgers, chicken burgers and vegan options, mostly ranging between £6-7. At the bar you can get very decent milkshakes, cocktails and a small selection of the usual bar drinks. Free samples of all the above definitely wetted my tastebuds for a return trip.
After a few minutes if lively 60s classics bouncing over the crowd, we were herded into two separate sections and the floor cleared for a performance by dance group The Monroes, who just recently were a great success at this years Grad Ball. They lept around to ‘Born to hand-jive’ following the same choreography as the Grease dance where Cha-Cha usurps Sandy as Danny’s dance partner – a very emotional part of the film!
Rightly so, tickets were sold out and none were available on the door. The reception from both new and returning students was positive all round. Comments usually had an emphasis how different the new Diner is compared to anything else on campus, and how it’s a clever use of space. Most were glad of another social area with a student feel: another place to eat, sit, and even study if need be, without it being as intense as the library.
I spoke to Union President David Mendoza-Wolfson about the making of the Diner: “We didn’t really run into any challenges, the project was expertly executed by our commercial team: there were no hiccups, everything was done and completed on time. The concept wasn’t so much a single idea, but we did know that wanted to improve social space. Bar 3 previously wasn’t a good space, and there’s such a big kitchen [from the neighbouring Café]and providing another place to eat would alleviate pressure on the Bridge and Café which get especially busy at lunch. So we talked to students to get feedback on what food they would want and that definitely gave us some ideas. I’m so happy with it all, and I’m definitely lpeased to have an ice-cream flavour named after me!”
I also spoke to Tony Addison, Commercial Development, Senior Staff member at SUSU who was full of praises for the Student team: “We worked very closely with the Sabbs and the students in order the bring this to light. In fact there was no designer! It was all everyones ideas put together and delivered expertly. We found from the students that there was an overwhelming demand for ice-cream and healthy food, which is why you’ll find vegan options (such as the lovely named ‘field of dreams’ salad) on the menu, and everything is grilled rather than fried.”
I found the new Diner to be a very successful transformation; a much needed space for both for students and for Bar 3, which really was a dead space between the stairs and Union Films. The Retro Hollywood theme has proven countless times to have stood the test of time and I believe that the same will be true for Southampton’s very own.