While microbreweries and craft beer locales pop up all over the city, The Muse Cafe and Pub (1252 LeMarchant Street) is taking a step back from drinking culture, opting instead to fill the role of safe-space.
The rebranded Dalhousie student-owned and-operated venue—formerly The Grad House— launched in September, coinciding with the debut of the building’s renovations. Since, the Muse has purchased an espresso machine and introduced a new menu, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, lower prices (ranging from $5-10) and vegetarian options to accommodate a wider range of students. Suppliers include Java Blend Coffee Roasters, East Coast Bakery and 24 Carrots Bakery.
Brendan Melchin, the events and communications manager, says the decision was part of a greater effort to counter alcohol culture on campus. The window of the Muse looks onto LeMarchant Place, the residence where a 19-year-old student died of alcohol poisoning in November 2015.
The Muse still serves alcohol but Melchin says the Dalhousie Association of Grad Students are focused on making the environment “relaxed, quiet and stress-free”. A dry St. Patrick’s Day event will be held at the venue, along with forums to discuss the drinking practices of on-campus establishments.
Mark Veysey, a server at the Muse, says staff and management have worked collectively to make the space welcoming for students to study and hangout in.
“We’ve had people in here shaky after an exam,” says Veysey. “We’ll talk in a soft voice to let them know that this is a safe space and they can feel comfortable here.”