Helping the Wesmen, one pizza at a time

New café keeps profits on campus, manager says

Darryl Reilly is no stranger to the Wesmen. Having attended basketball camp when he was younger, he worked at Soma Cafe and the Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre before being asked to manage the Duckworth Cafe and Eatery. Dylan Hewlett

Darryl Reilly, general manager of the Duckworth Café and Eatery, has seen many changes come to the University of Winnipeg Wesmen since he first started attending games as an adolescent.

The Wesmen have been a part of Reilly’s life for many years; he attended Wesmen games and basketball camps as an adolescent, and his sister played four years of Wesmen basketball during her own university career.

“I’ve been around the university for my whole life,” said Reilly.

When Reilly began working at Soma Café and the Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre in 2008, the Wesmen had four different teams: men’s and women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball.

Now, the Wesmen have teams in curling, wrestling, baseball and soccer - and even their own eatery to support their growing community of athletes.

“If you consider the amount of athletes that we as an organization have had to take care of, it’s quadrupled, probably. This is an old building, it needs a lot of upkeep,” said Reilly.

Reilly said all the profits from the Duckworth Café and Eatery are being reinvested back into the Wesmen and the student population as a whole.

“All the money that is made by the organization is put directly back in to it ... as opposed to these new businesses that keep popping up around campus,” said Reilly.

I had the task of trying to figure out a way of getting all these different businesses to come together in here and still have our own unique product.

Darryl Reilly, general manager, Duckworth Café and Eatery

The eatery’s menu consists of many classic fast foods, such as pizza, sandwiches and hotdogs, but Reilly points out this is actually quite a unique venture.

When Reilly was hired on at the eatery, it was his job to combine food products from Robin’s Donuts, Salisbury House and Pizza Hotline - all major Wesmen sponsors - to create an original menu.

“I had the task of trying to figure out a way of getting all these different businesses to come together in here and still have our own unique product,” said Reilly.

The licensed eatery boasts personal-size Pizza Hotline pizzas, which are not available anywhere else in the city.

The special arrangement with the Wesmen sponsors helps to keep the product costs low - an aspect Reilly hopes will make the eatery a viable business venture.

Pizza Hotline provides par-baked pizza shells and pizza sauce at a low cost, and Salisbury House delivers goods fresh every morning.

“The Wesmen have a longstanding corporate arrangement with a lot of our sponsors. It’s what makes the Wesmen viable,” said Reilly.

Reilly is thankful for the support the eatery has received since it opened four months ago.

“That’s the one thing about this being Wesmen run - a lot of people realize it’s in everybody’s best interest that we do well. I don’t get a bonus if we sell a lot of pizzas; our wages stay the same. So people are willing to help out,” said Reilly.

Published in Volume 66, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 14, 2012)

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