Spotlight: Out with the old, in with the new

The new pub and grill on the Mount Vernon Campus is anything but ordinary. There are restaurant-style booths, coffee-house-style couches and bar stools in a ski lodge setting. A deck outside the pub overlooks GW’s future NCAA Division I softball field.

The Oct. 9 kick off of the pub and grill was celebrated with free food, music and giveaways. President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak and other faculty and staff members joined students in the celebration.

At the opening, Executive Dean of the Mount Vernon Campus Grae Baxter expressed her eagerness for the future of GW’s newest gathering spot.

“I see the pub as our new center of student life;” she said. “I hope that it will be used and enjoyed by students.”

The restaurant serves made-to-order food such as eggs, hamburgers and pizza and houses a Provisions Market.

A cafe-style lounge outside the grill promotes an atmosphere for dining, socializing and leisure. It will feature a big-screen TV soon.

For Mount Vernon residents, the pub’s opening was highly anticipated alternative to Ames Dining Hall, which operates during specific dining hours, while the Pub is open 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“It was a serious hassle to have always gone to J Street if I didn’t want to eat during the Ames hours,” freshman Kelly McLaughlin said. “This is really convenient.”

McLaughlin said she likes being able to choose from the wide array of food offered.

“The chicken Caesar salad is so good,” she said. “It’s a healthy variety.”

But Mount Vernon residents are not the only ones enjoying the new eatery.

Freshman Matt O’Keefe, a Foggy Bottom resident, said he goes to the pub every time he visits Mount Vernon.

“I enjoy the short order options at the grill,” he said, “Especially the gyros, which aren’t available at Foggy Bottom.”

Graduate student Jennifer Durant said she is grateful for the pub and grill because all of her classes are at Mount Vernon.

“I’m not on a meal plan, so it’s nice to have a place to come to without having to have meal points,” she said.

The new Provisions drew mixed reviews from students.

Freshman Wendy Pena said she is ambivalent about the market. Although she welcomes the addition, she said the variety is lacking.

“It’s not as good as the Provisions on Foggy Bottom.” she said. “I still have to go to the other campus.”

Freshman Seung-yeon Kang said the high prices of Provisions is a sacrifice she has to make for the convenience of its location.

“I think the food at Provisions is overpriced,” she said. “But I no longer have to worry about my Ben and Jerry’s melting when I walk from Safeway.”

Most students interviewed said they enjoy the new lounge.

Freshman Catherine Lahovski said the atmosphere is relaxing.

“I go there to just hang out with my friends and eat,” she said.

“It’s a good common area to get together and study,” freshman Vanessa Maltin said. “It’s a place where you can talk without having to be so quiet like in the library.”

Freshman Henry Maticorena, who is on the Mount Vernon Coffee House committee, said the committee will hold events in the new pub every two weeks.

“We will have performers entertaining residents here,” he said. “The lounge has a cozy environment. It allows us to create a community on Mount Vernon.”

O’Keefe predicts a stronger community on the campus away from campus.

“It will be the hub of the social life and vitality of the Mount Vernon campus,” O’Keefe said. “There’s a lot of potential for this little cafe.”

Freshman Lia Gilles suggested the lounge should be open later than
10 p.m. to expand on the coffee-house atmosphere. She said this would give students a place to come together and socialize late at night.

According to the Mount Vernon Campus University Archivist Nina Mikhalevsky, the original pub of Mount Vernon was the inspiration for the new one.

When the campus was developed in 1946, a small barn next to what are now the soccer field and under-construction tennis courts was converted into a field house. It was intended to be a snack bar for sports teams to buy food after practice.

After the campus was completed, the field house became a student center, expanding into a restaurant.

The field house began serving alcohol in the 1950s to early 1980s. Mount Vernon was one of the few colleges at this time that had a place on campus to serve alcohol.

As a pub, the field house gained popularity around the area. Students from Georgetown and American universities flocked to Mount Vernon to throw parties there.

The field house stopped serving alcohol in the late 1980s when the drinking age changed from 18 to 21. This meant that the vast majority of students were unable to drink.

“The University wanted to provide an environment for students to socialize without any endorsements of the use of alcohol,” Mikhalevsky said.

Even without alcohol, the pub continued to be a central place for socializing and was still referred to as a pub. Because of the expansion of new athletic facilities, it was demolished in April 2000 to make way for construction plans.

The Director of the Student Development Center Arline Duffy fondly recalls the day the pub was torn down. She said the day was commemorated with a barbecue and fireworks.

Alumni were given a chance to acquire bricks saved from the pub by
donating money for construction of the new pub.

Mikhalevsky said the goal was to recreate the atmosphere of the old pub.

“The University was committed to building a new pub to provide a social place reminiscent of the original Mount Vernon pub,” she said.

For Baxter, the pub serves as a link to campus roots.

“We join our past with our present as we look to the future,” Baxter said.

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