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Nutmeg Grille opens to rave reviews
February 9, 1998

The Nutmeg Grille, the University's brand new restaurant, officially opened for business last week to throngs of hungry faculty and staff.

"We had a nice time taking a seminar speaker to lunch" said Dennis Hill, a professor of pathobiology and director of the micro-chemistry lab, about the grand opening on Thursday.

"The menu was pretty good. Everyone enjoyed the meal and talked about how nice the atmosphere was," he said. "It has the same atmosphere as a commercial restaurant, so it's a nice facility to take advantage of."

Alison Lyons, the restaurant's manager, said the opening was a resounding success.

"It went very well," she said. "We were very busy with about120 customers throughout lunch-time. It was a great first day and we look forward to the future."

More than 100 people celebrated the opening of the newrestaurant and its importance to the community last Monday during a reception with President Philip Austin and Chancellor Mark Emmert, kicking off a series of opening events at the Grille.

"I hope all of you will join us in ensuring the success of this venture," Austin said to the crowd, which included students, staff, faculty, department heads, directors and deans.

The Nutmeg Grille was renovated by the University and is being furnished through a $100,000 gift from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The 100-person capacity dining room is located in the Student Union, in rooms 278 and 282. It is designed to meet the need for facilities to bring the University community together and its development is an integral part of the strategic plan and the campus master plan.

Emmert said the University is trying to get people to recognize the campus as a community with open spaces where faculty, staff and visitors are able to come and enjoy camaraderie.

"Use it or lose it," he cautioned. "We have to make sure it's a success, so we would like all of you to begin thinking of using the facility."

Austin and Emmert already have booked the restaurant for events, even using it the weekend before it opened to entertain visitors to the Universit.

Many faculty and staff got a preview of the restaurant before it opened. The AAUP held its opening celebration last Tuesday, and.the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA) sponsored a reception the next day.

Ed Marth, executive director of the AAUP, said his members frequently have asked for a facility to take the place of the old Faculty Club.

"We thought if it would help create a place where faculty and staff could meet in fellowship, it was money well spent," he said.

Pathobiology professor Dennis Hill said he thought the restaurant would be a success.

"One of the things we talk about here is that we have to leave campus to take a speaker to lunch," he said. "It's hard to do that sometimes. The restaurant does answer that need."

The restaurant is open for lunch between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with reservations accepted for groups of six people or more. Payment will be by cash only to begin with, although soon credit cards also will be accepted. The Nutmeg Grille will be available for rental at other times for special and catered events. Rental costs are $150 for the entire restaurant, $100 for the large section and $50 for the small section. The space will be reserved primarily for student use on the weekends.

Renu Aldrich