Since the dissolution of Kohler’s, the former on-campus delivery service, late night food options have been scarce for students save for the assorted treats in the vending machines or the occasional pizza night runs by student clubs or organizations. The possibility of a newer and more stable late night food option has been a hot topic among students since the end of Kohler’s. This year, students finally got what they wanted in the form of The Pub, which opened earlier this spring.
The Pub, which was formerly the Lewis Quad recreational room, is a quaint attempt at bringing the experience of a college hotspot which is something that St. Mary’s county lacks aside from the Green Door. Even though the Pub is currently in a pilot program, students can still enjoy the cozy atmosphere which benefits from large crowds on Friday and Saturday evenings, a brand new speaker system which plays popular music, and a big screen high-definition television worthy of a sports bar.
The food offered during the pilot program, despite having a wealthy amount of items, is actually pretty decent and affordable. The nachos have easily become the most popular item on the menu as they are the most affordable (just $3 without chicken or beef), and the serving size is more than fair. Also on sale to students during the pilot program are personal-size pizzas ($5-6), multiple hot and cold sandwiches ($5-6), burritos ($6), and canned beverages which are also fairly priced and have been received well by the campus community.
Every Thursday, there are events at the Pub with alcoholic beverages on sale to patrons 21 and over. While the Pub is still trying to obtain a permanent liquor license, what has become known as “Thursdays at the Pub” is an effort to pilot the serving of alcoholic beverages. “Thursdays at the Pub” also benefit from live music earlier in the evening, which adds to the atmosphere of the venue.
However, if the Pub is going to succeed, there should probably be some more improvements to the pilot program. For now, the Pub is a great place to hang out on the weekends, but I fear that the popularity will wane over time as the novelty of a late night food option and place to hang out after a night at the Townhouses wears off.
The biggest changes that should be made are to the menu and to the atmosphere of the locale. Expand the menu to include things such as fried foods (mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, fries, etc.), burgers and chicken sandwiches, and other kinds of pub fare, would bring more diversity to the menu and give students a chance to have something a little more substantial. It’s always a good thing to walk into a place and actually pay for a meal.
In addition, and I am well aware that the school and Bon Appetit are working on this, you can’t have a pub without alcohol. I cannot stress this enough. Once The Pub has alcohol available on days other than Thursday, however, I can see students wanting to go in there and, if the menu improves, have a drink and a burger with their buddies. Already it seems that more students stay to hang out on Thursday nights than on other nights of the week.
In terms of the atmosphere, renovations should definitely be made. First off, the lighting is a distraction, mainly because it’s too bright and doesn’t set the right mood for what a pub should be. Also, the décor is unlike any pub I’ve ever been in before. It is very cool that there are nice pieces of furniture in front of the fireplace, but not everyone is going to sit there. I would invest in some nicer tables and chairs. I would also suggest maybe a bar to sit at, as the majority of the students are going to be huddled with their friends having a laugh and a drink or two. Right now it just feels like something that was slapped together for the time being and if the school wants people to come and enjoy the pub, it’s going to need to be more like a pub and less like a rec room.
Even though it’s a pilot program, and it succeeds wonderfully in that regard, the pub needs to make some improvements if it wants to outlast the grace period that comes with novelty. The smaller issues at hand, such as the Pub being cash only, present a bit of a roadblock, but most students are willing to pay and therefore don’t present as much of an issue as students getting sick of the environment and the food they’re paying for. In short, the pub is good for now, but probably only for now.