The on-campus bar, Woodys has opened its doors once again in the shape of the new state-of-the-art Parkwood Hub.
Those of you who are unfamiliar with the old building, here is a short history of a small, but much beloved bar named Woodys. Woodys Bar opened in Parkwood in 1993 and quite quickly became “the place to be” for students and staff.
Famous for its Stack Burger, live sports broadcasting, and the loud, lively atmosphere, Woodys was the centre of any group social. Come summer 2017, a post appeared on the alumni Facebook page informing them of the bad news.
It did not take long for the comments section to be flooded with the feeling of dismay and heartache. Amongst many unforgettable traditions, the round-the-world Woodys drinking challenge was fondly remembered by the members of the Kent alumni group.
Since the early 1990s, the completers of this challenge were presented with a silver plaque which was then displayed on the wooden walls of Woodys. Alumna, Claire Stone stated on Facebook that she ‘still got the t-shirt to prove that she completed the challenge in 1995/1996’.
Today, the collection of plaques proudly hangs in the new and improved Woodys, leaving a subtle hint of memorable history.
This attention to detail demonstrates Kent Union’s efforts to preserve the captivating charm of Woodys’ character. This summer, Woodys facebook page teased “Autumn 2018” as the opening date, answering the all-important question ‘When can we next order the stack burger?’ (The answer to that is Sunday.)
Fastforward to two weeks ago and the ribbon is cut outside the £3 million Parkwood hub. The opening not only introduced a fresh Woodys bar but also new social areas, IT study hubs, updated convenience store and two dance studios.
Copeland and Featherstone are now the first and only much-needed dance studios on Canterbury campus. Following thorough research and student feedback, the names are based on two prominent figures in theatre and art: American ballet dancer Misty Danielle Copeland and Vicky Featherstone, the artistic director of London’s Royal Court Theatre.
Popularity comes with a price, an issue Woodys faced in the past has been the lack of space, which was magnified during special events like the Super Bowl. To combat this issue, the new site can hold over 160 students.
Other visible developments include Kent Unions push for sustainability. Campus Coffee claims to ‘serve great coffee and good karma whilst putting 100% of profits back into the student experience’ and claim that they ‘exclusively use Single Original Coffee sourced and roasted by their friends at Curve Roasters in Margate.’
Curve Roasters are a sustainable coffee company existing since 2016. Union President, Aaron Thomson celebrated the new venue which took 18 months to build by stating: ‘Its definitely different, but I think students that come to Parkwood will really appreciate it.’
Woodys Review, by Jesse Bedayn
Woodys is renowned to third year students and alumni at the University of Kent.
The old pub sat in the eastern corner of Campus, catering to Parkwood and the many sports teams that frequented the dimly lit, wooden interior to enjoy socials, a pool game with mates, or a football match projected onto the large screen that was unrolled for big events.
Woodys was never cold or quiet, everfilled with the buzz of many conversations over a pint or boisterous shouts as a favourite team was cheered to victory or defeat—either way, a friend and another pint was never more than ten feet away.
The final design for Woodys when it was announced it would be open in time for freshers.
When Kent Union decided to demolish and rebuild Woodys, finishing first year students— at the time—and alumni were fearful of losing the space that had hosted so many memories, while being warily excited for a new phase.
The Student’s Union, understanding their concerns, used student feedback throughout the building process to ensure that the new Woodys didn’t lose its old charm as the center of the Parkwood community. The Union did well.
Though the new Woodys lacks the old, charmingly dingy interior that the old Woodys was adored for, the modern changes do not take away from the cheerful atmosphere. The new space is larger, allowing for more conversations to build the amiable murmur that creates the homey nature of the pub.
“One more coffee please?” Woodys now use coffee directly sourced and roasted in Margate.
The menu has been upgraded, while the prices have remained low. Though the burgers at Woodys were loved, the new street food menu, created with input from students, offers a range of affordable food from a Korean Pork Bap to a Breakfast Bun and, of course, the infamous Stack Burger, served only on Sundays.
The old Recreation Burger is, if not a little overcooked, delicious, having lost a lot of the grease that accompanied it when ordered at the old Woodys. The new Grilled Steak Fries is a delightful combination, with the steak cooked to medium (they asked neither my friend nor me how we preferred our steak cooked).
The cheese sauce that coated the steak was an appetizing addition, but the chimichurri lacked any freshness, was too sour, and tasted like it was poured from a can (Note: I had a disagreement with my friend over the chimichurri). The small samples I tried of the other food, including the Baja Fish Taco and Tikka Wings, were superb, exceeding my expectations.
With the refreshed menu offering a delicious variety of food, and the new space accommodating and promoting the old Woodys communal atmosphere, the only concern is service.
My first order arrived with an apology for the delay, InQuire’s Website Lifestyle Editor’s tea order was forgotten as she stood at the bar, and our Head of Marketing, after asking after his late food more than once, was told that his order had arrived unbeknownst to him.
After finally convincing the staff that the food was not actually in front of him, they said it would be 5-10 minutes. No food arrived, and George asked for a refund, which they granted.
These are the first weeks of Woodys opening, however, and any unsteady service can, I hope, be attributed to that. I have little doubt that the new staff, mainly students, will soon get their sea legs and the service will smooth itself out.
Like any restaurant or pub, the beginning will always be a little unsteady, but the aesthetic, the new menu, and the retention of the old atmosphere all impressed me.
As someone who loved the old Woodys, I had little faith that the new Woodys would in any way sufficiently replace the old. The first time I saw it my low expectations were dashed, and, having been back a couple times since, my admiration for what the Union has built has only grown.
I encourage you to visit the exciting space and order some of the new food—and while you’re still waiting for your food, remember, another pint is only ten feet away.