The historic University Club building reopened on Monday, now operated by the Wisconsin Union. As part of the reopening, the University Club will add another union dining service called the Union Commons at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Union Commons is located on the first floor of the University Club building on Library Mall. A dining room, reading room and cafe each have several dining options such as Rooted Ground coffee and espresso drinks, hot and iced teas, a variety of toasted sandwiches, soups, chilis and other beverages.
The new venue not only provides another dining option for students but adds another seating location and study area which may be beneficial considering the regular long lines and limited seating at other Unions around campus, according to Shauna Breneman, the communications director for the Wisconsin Union.
There are several benefits of adding another university dining location for students, especially considering the growth of the student body, said Breneman.
“We are reopening the University Club in a way that maximizes seating and provides fast counter service at two Union Commons counters in the building,” said Breneman. “We worked to create another campus living room, like our buildings Memorial Union and Union South, that welcomes, engages and connects the campus community.”
In the past, the University Club provided a place for members of the community to host educational and social events that promoted the cultural and intellectual life of the campus and community, said Mark Guthier, executive director of the Wisconsin Union, in an interview with the Daily Cardinal.
The club entered a state of financial exigency after the building was shut down due to COVID-19 conditions in March 2020, said Guthier.
“We, at the Wisconsin Union, look forward to continuing the University Club’s more than 100-year tradition of serving as a hospitality destination that provides dining experiences and spaces that promote social and cultural diversity and intellectual exchange,” said Breneman.
Members at the Wisconsin Union hope this newly renovated space will provide another area for students, faculty and Madison residents to grab a coffee, eat lunch or simply meet up with a colleague or friend.
Under the management of the Wisconsin Union, the Union Commons will be run similarly to Memorial Union, Union South and several other markets and cafes located around campus.
“We are thrilled to re-open this important and historic space for the benefit of the UW campus and Madison communities,” said Guthier. “We believe it will serve as another wonderful example of the positive impact the Union has in bringing people together.”
After being closed for a three-year period, the University Club has been working for over a year to rebuild the Union Commons. The team professionally cleaned and repainted areas on the first floor, updated and installed equipment, and implemented Wiscard capabilities in the cafe and dining rooms, according to Guthier.
“Changes include redesigning seating; creating a new menu of sandwiches, soup, pastries and beverages; only offering seating on a first-come, first-served basis; and offering counter service rather than table service,” said Breneman.
Students and staff will be able to use their Wiscards at the Union Commons and are eligible for a 10% discount on foods and beverages, according to the Wisconsin Union.
“We took time to thoughtfully plan how this space could best serve students, staff, faculty, the Madison area community and visitors,” said Breneman. “We are honored to re-introduce the University Club and open the new dining option Union Commons at the University Club.”
Both the University Club and Union Commons will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.