Rehearsals Grill will open with a revised business model, officials said Monday.
The university-owned building at 23rd Street and Virginia was leased to Sodexo, the university’s food service provider, who will operate the restaurant. Sodexo will run the restaurant, but will not serve beer or wine there, officials said.
Rehearsals initially was set to open in March 2013, but the opening was postponed after United Methodist Church leaders spoke out against the university potentially profiting from the sale of alcohol at the establishment.
University officials announced in April that they had agreed with church officials to sell the property and the building as a result of these concerns.
“The restaurant will not open prior to the sale,” Sandy Pantlik, senior director of university communications told Student Publications in April. She also said the 10-year lease with Sodexo was void.
Officials changed their minds, Pantlik said Monday.
“After further meetings with Sodexo and going down that path, trying to sell the building, it was just in the university’s best interest to keep the building and have Sodexo lease it and provide another campus food service,” she said.
A new lease was not written. Instead, the restaurant was placed under the existing management contract the university has with Sodexo, Pantlik said Monday.
“That was approved and applauded really, by the executive committee of the board,” Pantlik said.
Like the cafeteria and Alvin’s Café, the university will make a percentage of the profits from Rehearsals Grill, as per the management agreement, Pantlik said.
Rick Hall, vice president for student affairs, told The Campus in January that the restaurant planned to serve alcohol, and that the building was not on campus. Hall refused to answer questions about the restaurant on Sept. 25.
Sodexo plans to run the restaurant with a revised business model, Kelli Keegan, director of food services, said Friday.
“It was not Sodexo’s business model to be without beer and wine, nor was it Sodexo’s decision to be without beer and wine,” Keegan said.
The previously installed beer taps will remain in the building, she said.
“I have more than $30,000 worth of beer equipment and licensing in the place,” Keegan said. “In order to remove the beer taps we would have to remove counter tops and completely remodel.”
Sodexo is financially responsible for any updates or remodels to the building, as part of the management agreement, Pantlik said.
Bishop Robert E. Hayes, Jr. said administrators communicated with him that the university would not sell the building.
“The last information I had was that the university had abandoned the idea of selling the property,” Hayes said. “My initial understanding is that no alcohol would be served on the premises.
“I’ve got reassurance there would not be alcohol served there and that’s the bottom line.”
There is no set opening date for the restaurant, Keegan said Friday. But she said it would open soon.
“I’ve had to change it so much throughout the remodel, and I don’t want to promise something I can’t deliver,” she said.
Rehearsals will not open until the restaurant is staffed.
“I don’t really see it as an extension of on-campus dining,” Keegan said. “I see it as a street front open to students and the public.
“It will have food you can’t get anywhere else on campus.”