At the University of Kent we have seen a real shift amongst students to consume less alcohol than generations before them have been known to do. It is important that we reflect this within our catering offer.
This is why K-Bar was refurbished during the spring vacation and has been transformed into a modern, fresh, smoothie bar, with drinks made on site with fresh ingredients.
Appealing to the health conscious
The new K-Bar is designed with the health-conscious student in mind. It is a juice and smoothie destination, where the customer’s chosen drink is made-to-order in front of them using fresh and high-quality ingredients. This includes fruits, veggies, herbs, spices and superfoods.
A simple concept. However, the process of devising and implementing a fresh juice and smoothie menu is surprisingly complex. The team first of all had to establish which ingredients have which health benefits, in which form they work best and why; for example, fresh, frozen, powdered or milled and which ingredients complement each other both in terms of nutrition but also in taste and presentation.
We have trained our staff on the different bits of equipment they need to use to make the smoothies and juices, but also ensure they understand the benefits of each drink. The investment in expanding staff knowledge is one that has paid off. We are able to communicate to the students about the nutrients they are getting and how they’re extracted from the ingredients.
As well as a juice and smoothie bar, the outlet is stocked with premium alcoholic beverages and makes top-of-the-range cocktails using fresh ingredients. For example our strawberry daiquiri is one of the best sellers and that uses fresh strawberries. The virgin mojito uses a whole blended apple, and all the lime juice in the cocktails comes from fresh limes.
We have seen an increase in income since the re-launch, in particular a 53% increase in sales of non-alcoholic drinks. K-Bar sees an increase in income of 48% year-on-year.
New look – but reclaimed materials
During this time we also refurbished K-Bar looking at how we could improve students’ experience by improving the look of the bar. An important feature of K-Bar is the recycled and reclaimed materials used throughout the outlet. The front wall is made from reclaimed scaffold boards, the crates above the bar are from reclaimed floorboards. The bar itself is old railway sleepers made from Jarrah wood which is over 100 years old.
Darren Cullen, official Olympic 2012 Graffiti Artist has also been involved in the new look, with his graffiti wall.
Improved student experience
In the first two months of opening we received lots of positive feedback from students and staff on social media, including a University of Kent student ambassador doing a snapchat of the launch of the new K-Bar.
Positive comments like the one below were made following the re-opening:
“I popped into K-Bar last night, it looks absolutely amazing – what a brilliant job! It looks very impressive. Huge congratulations to everyone involved!” Chris Mattinson, Student Activities Team Leader.
Students are also able to use our secret jukebox app to request the music of their choice to play in the venue. The outlet also has a state-of-the-art audio and visual system.