2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrentians on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.
Story by Awa Badiane ’21
Many people dream of one day running a business. This dream doesn’t typically include co-managing a night spot on your college campus during your junior year. For Liam Wulfman, however, this is reality.
“I couldn’t imagine doing another job. Everything just seems kind of boring in comparison,” Liam says of his work at the Viking Room (VR), Lawrence University’s on-campus gathering place that first opened in 1969.
The VR is located in the basement of Memorial Hall, a casual hangout for faculty, staff and students who are 21 or older, mostly staffed by students.
The Viking Room was managed by an outside company until recently. Now it is student run (plus a faculty advisor). Liam and three other students manage the place that has been part of the fabric of the Lawrence community for five decades.
“We run everything, basically,” Liam says. “Operationally, we are pretty self-sufficient. Other than one faculty (advisor), it’s all student run. It’s pretty crazy. It’s weird and it’s exciting.”
Liam is in charge of a full staff, creates work schedules with other managers, and ensures the Viking Room is running smoothly and responsibly at all times.
“My first shift, I was carding,” he says, “It was pretty fun. They just told me, sit here, make sure no one under 21 comes in. Like, oh god, I was so afraid.”
Liam, a biology major who is part of Lawrence’s swimming and diving team, joined the VR staff near the end of his freshman year.
“One of the people on the swim team worked at the bar. … She told me to apply.”
As one might assume, now being responsible for the well-being of a fully functioning entertainment hangout while still in school is quite the challenge. Yet, as Liam gets more acclimated in his position, he is becoming more comfortable with his role as a manager and his need to juggle those duties with the demands of the classroom.
“It’s been tough, but really rewarding,” he says. “Now I know the bar really well. I pride myself on knowing how to make the stereo work every time. If you flick it just the right way, it works.”
He is even working to add features to improve the Viking Room experience.
“Turning the VR into a place where people can have fun and enjoy new things,” Liam says. “I’m excited for the future of the VR.”
He says it’s fun to run a business on campus and have the opportunity to serve and work with familiar faces, including professors who sometimes come in as guest bartenders.
“Working with professors is always super funny,” Liam says. “Especially if you have had the professor before.” They’re the experts in class but often not so skilled behind the bar.
Having the opportunity to build management skills necessary to run a business while in college can be golden in the long run, a big selling point for someone who one day hopes to open his own brewery.
“There’s a big craze for microbrewers right now, so I’m waiting for it to die down and I’ll be the cool one to bring it back,” Liam says.
Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.