After months of anticipation, both The Roost and the Laker Inn are open for business, ready to welcome hungry students and faculty in need of a snack, drink or fresh meal.
Located on the lower level of the Sister Carolyn Herrmann Student Union, these newly renovated areas will provide unique dining options unlike those currently available on campus.
“One of the commitments we’ve made to the campus community is to have variety,” Dean Schoenfeldt said, who until recently was Parkhurst general manager. “This gives the students a total of four retail facilities and two board facilities to enhance the dining program.”
The Roost opened its doors in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 15, attended by President Michael T. Victor, cabinet members, faculty, students and community members alike.
“There was lots of excitement and tons of folks,” Schoenfeldt said. “Opening an Irish-themed pub on St. Patrick’s Day weekend was an alignment of the stars.”
The pub stays true to Mercyhurst’s Irish roots thanks to the help of alumnus and restaurateur John Melody. A native Irishman himself, Melody is the founder and former owner of Molly Brannigans Irish Pub, a local favorite.
He worked closely with Betsy Frank, director of executive office projects and events, to provide a vision for the 1,200-square-foot-space in terms of themes, colors, patterns and style.
Ultimately, BSI and DDS Design Studios were contracted to assist in the process.
The Roost’s ode to Mercyhurst’s heritage does not end with the Irish flair, however, with a panel on the outside of the pub referencing the original Roost that acted as a campus lounge and snack bar in the days of Mother Borgia Egan.
This sense of community is to be captured once again with a pub atmosphere inviting students and guests to visit and enjoy each others’ company.
The space features a number of seating options, including traditional bar seating, high-top tables and booths. Customers can enjoy beverages, including alcoholic beverages if they’re over the age of 21, or a selection of pub food ranging from pizza logs and supersized pub pretzels to sandwiches, salads and desserts.
Schoenfeldt says the space has been a hit thus far and has even heard students say “they’re Roostin’” when referring to their dining experience.
“It was very nice,” senior Dance major Grace Petron said. “I liked it because it felt like an escape from campus and it was intimate like an actual bar.”
Though The Roost is still settling into its spot on campus, ideas are already in the works to cultivate community through different events, such as the recent showing of the men’s basketball game.
Future ideas include game nights, trivia and potentially even guest bartenders.
“Maybe it’s your professor pouring your beer or someone from the cabinet or athletics,”Lori Blakeslee, director of Retail Service said.
Over to the Laker, this area had a much quieter opening when it began serving again on March 18.
“We wanted to really showcase The Roost,” Schoenfeldt said. “But we are just as excited about what the Laker represents. It’s an opportunity for other retail for the campus.”
The newly renovated Laker Inn features a number of grab-and-go food and drink selections, in addition to three service areas featuring Mexican fare, the Laker Barista, serving coffee and tea and the Egg Bar featuring breakfast items.
“There’s brand-new menu items with more options to choose from,” said Blakeslee. “There’s also two new vegan and vegetarian options — that’s a big draw.”
One change that has been the center of student contention is the inability to use board swipes in the new Laker. This has been a yearlong discussion involving the dining committee, school administration and Parkhurst, with the parties collectively deciding that with the expansion of the dining halls, retail facilities like the Laker Inn can fulfill their true purpose as retail, rather than board equivalencies.
“Even though there’s less seating, it’s a great atmosphere,” junior Chemistry major Shawn Titus said. “It maintains the old charm that it used to have.”
As a whole, however, the feedback that Parkhurst has received has been largely positive, especially given menu options, environment and prices.
“This is one of the most dynamic programs a university of this size can have and really benchmarks what a midsize school can be capable of,” Schoenfeldt said.
The Roost will be open Sundays through Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to midnight. The Laker Inn will be open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.