Since the Phoenix Bar and Grill’s move to the Refectory Building, students have encountered unexpected wait times to enter the restaurant.
“What we’re trying to do is maintain a balance between getting as many people as we can in the restaurant but also maintaining our level of service,” said Jessica Merolli, president of the Graduate Students Association, which owns and operates the bar.
“It has meant that wait times are a little bit longer than they normally are.”
Merolli suggested that the Phoenix wait times are the result of the heightened demand to eat in its larger location and because of increased exposure to undergraduates.
The new Phoenix location was initially touted for its larger capacity, with 35 more seats inside and 81 more seats on the patio. But despite the restaurant’s ability to accommodate more customers, on numerous occasions there have been several sections closed in the main dining hall.
The new location has an occupancy limit of 181 people. Although the liquor license allows for up to 362, the liquor inspector explained that capacity must be capped at the number of people that can fit inside – in the event that it rains and the patio patrons all want to come indoors, for example.
The policy was the same at the Wentworth House location, where capacity was capped at 150, even though the liquor license allowed for 443.
At the new location, though, patrons waiting for tables at the door can see most of the indoor dining hall, which is sometimes relatively empty while the patio is full.
On the service end, the distance between the kitchen and patio has been an issue. In the Wentworth House location, the smaller patio was much closer to the kitchen, which ensured smoother and faster delivery of food. It also ensured more consistent service because servers wouldn’t lose time travelling between the kitchen and the patio.
Merolli also mentioned other factors that she thought were part of the necessary “learning curve” at the new location. The staff transitioned during the restaurant’s peak rush time in Welcome Week and has been adapting to the new kitchen, equipment and seating arrangement.
As the semester continues and things get more settled at the new location, the Phoenix is looking to enhance its service by adding new menu items and allocating a certain number of seats for reservations.
“We’re really happy that everyone is so excited to come to the bar and we’re trying our best to get people through as quickly as possible,” said Merolli. “We don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the service in order to get more people in the restaurant.”
TwelvEighty, the other campus bar, has seen an increase in sales from last year through the first two weeks of September. Whether or not there is link between this increase and the wait times at The Phoenix is uncertain.