The opening of Healy Family Student Center in 2014 brought not only new study spaces to Georgetown students, but also a new watering hole — Bulldog Tavern. Since it opened in November 2014, the tavern has changed management three times.
This fall, Epicurean and Company was selected as the new vendor for Bulldog Tavern. Previously, Aramark, the vendor that also supplies O’Donovan Hall, took over management from Bon Appetit Management Co. in May 2017.
According to Joelle Wiese, associate vice president for auxiliary services, this most recent switch in management was the result of a changing dining landscape on campus and university efforts to match student needs.
“As part of our continued efforts to respond to changing campus needs and improve dining program service and options the university conducted a competitive process to select new management of Bulldog Tavern for the 2018-19 academic year,” Wiese wrote in an email to The Hoya. “With a location already on the northside of campus, Epicurean has demonstrated its success and popularity among the Georgetown community.”
Epicurean and Co., which has been a part of Georgetown for 10 years, sees Bulldog Tavern as an opportunity to try new things.
“A pub is a pretty different concept from what we do at Epicurean now and it gives us an opportunity to implement a menu with items that we wouldn’t be able to necessarily fit with any of the sections here,” Epicurean and Co. general manager Michael Chon wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We would also be closer to another section of campus where we would interact more closely with a different group of students and staff that might not be able to get to Epicurean conveniently.”
To differentiate itself from Epicurean’s existing fare, Bulldog Tavern will feature a new menu, a weekly trivia night and potential BBQ nights on the patio with an outdoor bar.
“We don’t want this to be Epicurean 2.0. Rather, we want to build a new, successful restaurant that’s different from the other dining options on campus, as well as provide a casual setting to hang out,” Chon wrote. “We want to do a diverse menu with your typical bar staples (including Epi’s famous quesadillas, so people don’t have to walk across campus to get them) but also have plenty options for those with dietary restrictions, including vegans/vegetarians and those with food allergies.”
While the menu may not be the same as before, Chon said Epicurean is committed to making the dining experience at Bulldog Tavern as convenient as possible for students, despite no longer accepting meal exchanges.
“The new Bulldog will definitely accept flex and debit dollars. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to accept any meal exchanges because we’re not affiliated with Aramark. However, we’re hoping to provide a variety of affordable meal options in the to go window to offset this,” Chon wrote.
GUSA’s Dining Policy Chair Sina Nemazi (COL ’21) said he hopes the new Bulldog Tavern will eventually accept meal exchanges as it had in the past.
“I do want a meal exchange option there because I think that’s what people will miss about Bulldog,” Nemazi said. “Since Epi wanted to take on the risk of the space they should provide that option for the students.”
Epicurean and Co. is optimistic about the future of the restaurant under its new management.
“All in all, we recognize that the Bulldog Tavern has potential to be a great place for Georgetown students, staff, and guests. Originally, previous students from Georgetown voted for a pub on campus and that’s how the Bulldog Tavern came to existence,” Chon wrote. “This is a huge honor for us to be trusted with this space and we hope to do it justice.”
Bulldog Tavern aims to open for the new school year on the week of Sept. 10 with shorter hours and a limited menu. Eventually, Chon said, Bulldog Tavern’s normal operating hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with plans to offer a breakfast option later in the year.