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After just one year, business is booming
at Nutmeg Grille
February 22, 1999

It's 12:30 p.m. and the crowd of lunch-goers spills into the hallway. Today, like many other days, the Nutmeg Grille is busy.

Waiters and waitresses wearing green button-down shirts, khaki slacks and white aprons hustle to and from the kitchen, as manager Roselyn Lamont, scans the dining room for available seating. Lamont appraises the situation, pops over to the group in the corridor and guides them to a waiting room. She then hurries back into the dining room to greet a couple who are to be seated next. "May I take your coats?" she asks graciously. She heads to a coatrack, and is back in seconds to walk the couple to their table. Menus in hand, she asks them if it is their first visit to the restaurant.

This is the kind of service Lamont and her student staff offer: gracious, courteous and attentive. "We try to give people the best service we can," she says.

The Nutmeg Grille, located in the Student Union, celebrates its first anniversary this month, and business is booming. Some 80 to 100 people a day eat at the restaurant, which is open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. During the past year, faculty, administrators, staff, students and visitors have enjoyed the restaurant's quality food and service, relaxed atmosphere and convenient location.

"When we bring our top recruits to campus, this is a mandatory stop," says Jackie Adams, head women's track and field coach. "The food is great, the wait staff is friendly and efficient and the hostesses make us feel welcome."

Michael Zito, an associate professor of allied health, agrees. "The quality of the food is outstanding," he says. "The environment is great to just relax or meet with colleagues for business, and the wait staff has done a remarkable job at providing quality service."

Familiar faces abound at the Nutmeg Grille. It's not uncommon to be at a luncheon meeting and spot a colleague, neighbor or friend at a nearby table. More families are frequenting the restaurant, including perspective students and their parents, Lamont notes. "People who come here are looking for a nice, quiet atmosphere where they can relax, unwind and sit with their friends, or have a business meeting," she says.

The atmosphere is casual but elegant. Small bouquets of fresh flowers grace each table and soft classical music or jazz is played during the meal.

The menu offers a variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages. There are also daily specials, prepared by Chef Christine Heins. Today's specials are Puttanesca, a pasta dish served in a creamy tomato sauce with chicken, artichoke hearts, black olives and capers, and cream of broccoli soup. The diet-conscious and vegetarians needn't worry - appropriate items are also offered for them.

The 100-person capacity dining room was designed in direct response to the need for facilities to bring the University community together. Faculty and staff had wanted a place where they, students, visitors, speakers and other guests could come together to share community life. The space was renovated by the University and was furnished through a $100,000 gift from the American Association of University Professors. Plants in the restaurant were a gift from the College of Agriculture.

"It's been a very, very welcome addition to the campus," says Ed Marth, executive director of AAUP. Faculty were looking for a place on campus to take guests and guest speakers to lunch, he says.

Gerald Weller, director of dining services, also rates the restaurant a success. It's filling what was previously a void for an on-campus place for lunch and a place for departments to entertain in intimate, upscale surroundings, he says.

Lunch reservations are accepted for groups of five or more. The Nutmeg Grille is also available for rental at other times for special and catered events, and offers a social hour twice a month on Thursdays, from 4-6 p.m., when appetizers will be served. and a cash bar is available.

For information or reservations, call (860) 486-5633.

Sherry Fisher