The College of St. Benedict recently reopened a campus dining facility as what it believes to be the only college dining facility with an exclusive women's sports motif. The eatery, called McGlynn's Sports Cafe, honors all 11 sports played at the women's liberal arts college located in St. Joseph, MN, through memorabilia affixed to walls and hanging from ceilings.
The retooled menu was developed using input from student focus groups and includes fresh, hand-pattied certified Black Angus burgers, hand-cut french fries, chicken wings, made-from-scratch onion dill and asiago cheese sub bread. The changes have boosted daily meals served to an average of 1,100, quite a leap from the 500-700 meals/day goal of the renovation.
The memorabilia displayed in the space includes old school jerseys, golf clubs, tennis rackets and other pieces of sports equipment, while full-wall murals provide a contemporary, urban backdrop of Blazer athlete photos, logos, motivational quotes and "grunge" artwork.
"We chose an athletics theme since the athletics department is housed in the same building," says Sonja Gidlow, executive director of auxiliary services. "We wanted to create an ambiance similar to a sports bar, so the sports equipment and uniforms in the décor made sense. The coaches were happy to support the project and went through their archives to donate items," she adds. Gidlow and Heidi Everett, executive director of advancement communications, were the creative team behind the new décor.
Tom Oehler, director of culinary services, conducted focus groups with both students at both St. Benedict and at its partner school, St. John's University, earlier this year (St. John's is a men's liberal arts college located three miles away; students from both schools attend classes and activities together and have access to the resources of both campuses).
In those groups, the students indicated they wanted sub sandwiches and good burgers from a new McGlynn's. Furthermore, over the summer, more than 18 people entered a burger contest and the staff conducted taste-testings for bread, sauce and other recipes.
"We wanted to provide very high quality food and have developed a core menu that we are adding variety to with daily and weekly specials," Oehler says.
Serving hours have also been expanded, with McGlynn's staying open to midnight Monday-Thursday (with the grill open until 10 p.m.), 10 p.m. on Friday (grill open until 8:30 p.m.) and 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (grill open until 7 p.m.).