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February 28, 2005

New Restaurant To Open In Student Union

Molly Blizman, a senior, serves a practice lunch at Chuck & Augie's Restaurant.
Practice Run. Molly Blizman, a senior, serves a practice lunch at Chuck & Augie’s Restaurant, which will open after spring break at the Student Union.

Photo by Peter Morenus

For Roselyn Lamont, the capstone for a year’s worth of work creating Chuck & Augie’s, UConn’s new upscale restaurant in the Student Union, came with a Google search for information on the Storrs brothers for whom the eatery is named. The web citation came from California’s wine country.

“I was looking for interesting information about Charles and Augustus, and one of the sites that popped up was for Storrs Winery in California,” Lamont says.

“It turned out not only that Steven Storrs, who owns the winery with his wife, Pamela, is a descendant of the Storrs brothers, but they named their first son Aaron Michael Augustus. And they mention UConn on their website. It was perfect.”

Lamont has purchased about 18 cases of their wine, six each of the vineyard’s Merlot, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. She will pop the cork on the wine, and cut the ribbon to open the restaurant, when students, faculty, and staff return from spring break March 14.

The restaurant, which fronts Union Street in the Student Union, will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays; and from 4 to 10 p.m. on weekends.

Named for Charles and Augustus Storrs, the brothers who gave Connecticut the land on which the Storrs Agricultural School was developed, Chuck & Augie’s replaces the Nutmeg Grille, which was closed when renovations began on the Student Union. The restaurant will have more than a dozen historic photos gracing its walls, and four pages of memorabilia wrapped around the menu.

That menu, says Scott Harmon, director of retail services for Dining Services, has been rebuilt, although it does contain some old favorites from the Nutmeg Grille. New creations from the chefs include three types of panini sandwiches, chilled salmon on baby greens, and a range of salads and light meals. The same menu will be used for lunch and dinner, followed by a late-night menu that turns to more student-oriented fare, including burgers, wings, and burritos. Nearly all entrees are priced between $5.50 and $6.95.

Beer and wine will be served, but Lamont says underage patrons shouldn’t even try to get alcohol: she has purchased two hand-held identity scanners that scan the barcodes on driver’s licenses, not the more easily recreated photos or birth dates that are sometimes altered.

Last week, as the finishing touches were being put on the restaurant, including a UConn blue awning that juts out onto Union Street, Lamont and several other supervisors were tossing out directions and offering advice to some of the dozens of new waitstaff and chef’s assistants. The trainees scurried about, making sandwiches and serving a handful of invited guests who volunteered their time so workers could practice.

“It’s a lot more complicated than anyone thinks,” Lamont says. “It’s all about rhythm and timing.”

With the restaurant’s new location in the middle of the busiest building on campus, that timing will likely be put to the test. It will seat 120, and is sectioned off to offer a casual dining experience – with tall chairs and tables – or a more formal meal in two areas to the rear of the restaurant, one of which features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Hillside Road. Lamont and Harmon also expect to offer a limited amount of café-style seating in front of the restaurant and, during warmer months, they will also serve meals on a patio on the Hillside Road portion of the building.

“It’s going to be fun,” says Lamont. “I’m sure the community will love it.”