Pub-Style Campus Center Restaurant Won’t Serve Alcohol
University Says Decision to Not Sell Beer, Wine at 'Damien's' Was 'Best Plan of Action'
The sports restaurant under construction in the Campus Center will not serve alcohol, per a decision by university leadership which overruled University Auxiliary Services’ plans to serve beer and wine there.
The change was not publicly made. Mike Nolan, UAlbany communications specialist, confirmed via email last week that the decision was made in late October, but declined to comment on the reason for the change.
“University leadership evaluated options for this space and decided the best plan of action was to move forward with a sports restaurant that does not serve alcohol,” Nolan wrote. “We have no further comment on this.”
Steve Pearse, director of UAS, expressed disappointment at the decision about the establishment, which he said is tentatively planned to be called Damien’s.
“Maybe someday we’ll get it [alcohol] back, then we can call it Damien’s Pub,” said Pearse.
UAS had planned the area to be a sports-themed pub since at least last year, saying that the area would be an installment of upstate restaurant Tully’s Good Times. Sodexo’s partnership with Tully’s fell through in late October due to still unknown contractual disagreements.
The restaurant is still slated to open next semester, but it will be run either directly by Sodexo or by another of their local partners. Pearse said in October that the restaurant is expected to serve comfort food such as chicken tenders and burgers.
A construction worker at the site in October noted that alcohol was built into the plans for the project, with a locking roll-top beer and wine case in the designs. Construction firm VMJR completed its work on the restaurant space early last month.
Alcohol on campus has been a point of contention for a number of years. Finance and Administration’s 2017 assessment details how academic departments or staff hosting social events on campus face high costs from Sodexo because of the cost of acquiring temporary liquor permits and hiring trained bartenders to serve alcohol.
Finance and Administration’s action plan in May stated that university senior staff decided in 2015 to require social events to be catered by Sodexo.
“UAS is currently seeking approval to have beer and wine served in one of the new campus center retail locations,” the plan read. “This would provide a venue for departments to hold such receptions, providing a proximate and financially viable alternative to the current catering options.”
Three administrative managers of academic departments were contacted for comment on the decision’s impact for social events; two did not respond and the third declined to comment.
Jeff Kurto, Sodexo’s General Manager of Retail Dining, did not respond to a request for comment.