It was over 40 years ago that The Pit Pub was born when David Suzuki, then an UBC associate professor of zoology, wrote a column for a need to have an on-campus pub. Shortly after, The Pit Pub was born in the confines of the old Student Union Building’s basement.
This past summer, The Pit Pub was reborn within a new space in the lower floor of the brand new, 250,000-square-foot UBC AMS Student Nest – the new Student Union Building. The sleek, chic entertainment venue and watering hole occupies a 6,796-square-foot crescent-shaped space and has a capacity that holds just over 400 people.
“There was a lot of student consultation in terms of what we wanted for The Pit, and what kind of aesthetic we wanted,” Rae Barilea, Community Engagement Coordinator for the AMS Student Nest, told Vancity Buzz.
“We wanted to keep that college bar feel, but without the grittiness of a college bar. So it still has that ‘Pitty’ feel to it because it’s underground. It still feels a lot like a campus bar, somewhere you can feel comfortable in.”
The space feels significantly larger and airier than the old Pit, which had a sunken dance floor that limited the flexibility and usage of the space. There are a variety of fixed and unfixed seating arrangements, including bar seating, large seating booths with a TV screen for each booth, banquet seating, and an area with moveable chairs and tables that turns into a large dance floor for the venue’s nightclub mode.
Three skylights hover directly over the dance floor, allowing people to peer down into the Pit from the new grassy knoll.
Two large plank bar areas have been built into the opposite corners of the space to reduce the likelihood of the build-up of large crowds and lineups for drinks. Patrons can choose from a variety of local craft beers on tap, wines and specialty cocktails, such as the Grassy Knoll – a mojito with gin and ginger beer instead of soda and rum.
No expense was spared with the new Pit’s audio and visual equipment. An expansive 55-foot-long video screen spans an entire wall, allowing pub patrons to watch multiple sport events on the screen. As it is directly in front of the performance podium, the screen also doubles as a dynamic media wall for bands and DJs to display their own visuals or music videos.
And of course, there is the food menu which the AMS prides as an affordable and sustainable selection, created by a kitchen team led by former Uli’s Restaurant executive chef Ryan Bissell. The menu includes a number of appetizers (nachos, calamari, poutine and chicken wings), salads and sandwiches.
The complete reinvention of the Pub into a modern, contemporary venue, comparable to downtown Vancouver’s pubs and nightclubs, is drawings crowds from outside the campus, something that the old Pit was never able to do.
“We’ve been running Pit Nights since we opened in mid-June, and they have been doing really great,” Barilea added.
“It’s crazy, I used to work at the old Pit as a bartender and the summers were dead. But over the last few weeks, people were coming in even though it’s summer… they are coming in because it’s a cool place to hang out. There’s a resurgence of The Pit, and it’s really exciting.”
The Pit Pub at the UBC Nest
Address: 6133 University Boulevard, Vancouver (basement level of the UBC Nest Student Union Building)