Table service removal at the Outpost

Lakehead’s campus bar decides to get rid of its wait staff positions

By: Brady Coyle, Staff Writer

Outpost Manager, Aimee Turner, along with Lakehead University Student Union, have decided to discontinue the use of table service after having it available at the campus bar for the 2015-2016 academic year.

It is not uncommon for pubs and restaurants to withhold table service. Even so, the decision will affect all associated with the bar in a variety of different ways. This leaves one question that remains to be answered: Is this a good decision or a bad one?

Turner’s opinion is clear: “I think it will be a good decision. It cuts our overhead costs, which allows us to retain a high quality of food.”

For Turner and LUSU, when it came to the issue of choosing between reducing wait staff or providing inferior food products, the final verdict was a no-brainer. There are systems around table service, after all.

“We will be using the buzzer system,” says Turner, “and we will still offer table service during special events.”

The way the buzzer system works is quite simple: Upon ordering food, patrons will receive a buzzer that they then take to their table. When the meal is ready, the device vibrates, notifying the customer that it is time to return to the counter to collect their food. This system ensures that customers no longer need to wait for servers to be available to take orders.
Despite shorter wait times, the reaction of Lakehead students who have become accustomed to being waited on may be less positive. Heavily influenced through film and television, local bars have become synonymous with friendly environments and amiable individuals. The role that servers play in promoting this atmosphere is integral and some fear that without them, the Outpost could lose some of its charm.

“I think it is worse,” says Meghan Broughton, a fourth-year Kinesiology major. “Something that I liked about the Outpost is that during the day you could use it as a restaurant – and now it feels like it could be any other bar.”

This is a concern for Lakehead’s campus bar, and management is aware of the mixed reactions. While the Outpost’s new buzzer system has been operating since the beginning of the 2016 Fall semester, the pub’s staff are open to returning to table service, if necessary.

“We will see how it goes,” says Turner. “If it does not work, we might bring [table service] back.”
The “do-it-yourself” approach that the Outpost is taking is reflective of social changes in daily life. Self-serve gas stations and ATMs are examples of two everyday tasks once carried out by others that are now, for the most part, done independently.

While the decision to remove table service may be progressive, whether or not it is a crowd pleaser remains to be seen. Find out for yourself – the Outpost is now open for the Fall semester.


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