As part of the USU’s push to reinvigorate campus life, Manning Cantina — a Mexican street food-style restaurant — opened this morning at Manning House. The venue will operate every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11am to 3pm.
“The kitchen is a part of our [the USU’s] overall vision,” said Head of Hospitality Operations Ben Pinney. “We hope by providing great food, at affordable student prices, we will see Manning Bar alive again during the day”.
Manning Cantina offers an affordable menu — featuring tacos, nachos, and empanadas — priced between $6.50 and $10.00 for students. During parties and events at Manning Bar, the menu increases in price by almost 50% for non-students.
Pinney made mention of the ‘Bonus Lunch’ program — which promises 200 free meals to USU members every Thursday — as part of the USU’s ongoing food security strategy.
The initiative has been funded in part by a Destination NSW grant, along with approximately $150,000 of SSAF contestable funding allocated to the USU’s food security strategy.
Manning Bar is also set to offer an expanded schedule of programming and events — including comedy every Tuesday, live music on Wednesdays, and the long-awaited return of lunchtime Theatresports on Thursdays — after extensive refurbishments of the venue were undertaken earlier this year. The USU is also incentivising clubs and societies to host Tuesday bingo at Manning Bar in exchange for sign-ups and club promotion, a $100 food and drink tab, and “big prizes”.
The return to daytime trading comes after years of delay and disruption. Pinney attributes the popularity of outdoor venues like Courtyard Café and Laneway to the University’s changing social atmosphere. Manning Bar, largely an indoor venue, has struggled to keep up. However, USU CEO Andrew Mills expressed hope at the last Board meeting that the launch of Manning Cantina will revitalise the venue as a hub of student activity.