Jack Magee’s Pub and Grill began satiating Bowdoin students’ late night desires for French fries and onion rings in 1995. Nine years later, Dining Services revamped the calzone-and-burger-joint fare, adding specials like Thai vegetable dumplings and the “El Grande” burrito to counteract competition with downtown establishments like Wild Oats Bakery and Café, according to a 2004 Orient article.
This year, the Pub ushered in a new semester with once-again updated fare: from the Tandoori Tempah Wrap with spicy eggplant relish to the already top-selling fish taco garnished with fresh avocado, shredded cabbage, salsa and green-onion mayo.
“The new options definitely make it more likely that I’ll grab something if I miss dinner,” said Charlotte Kleiman ’15.
Sales have almost doubled since the menu change.
“I had been making small changes here and there every year, but this is definitely a big overhaul,” said Adeena Fisher, administrative director of Smith Union Dining. “It was a change a few years in the making as a response to student, faculty and staff feedback about wanting some healthier options.”
Fisher noted that the pub draws “two very different clientele.” Many benefits-eligible faculty and staff create Polar Point accounts linked to their OneCards, leading to a lunchtime rush, whereas many students will head to the pub in search of that niche fourth meal of the day, often after 10 p.m., according to Fisher.
Since returning from his semester abroad last spring, Sam Silverman ’14 has said he plans to re-launch his late-night delivery service to meet this student traffic. The pub offered official delivery until the 1999-2000 academic year, but stopped after issues with food quality, long delivery times, and student staffing getting “lost” while delivering, according to the 2004 Orient article.
After a few months of experience last year, Silverman has more confidence. He quoted profits of around $20 to $50 a night, adding up to close to $100 a week, with his only expenses being gas money and the start-up cost of a pizza-bag for delivery.
“During football [season], we’d just be sitting in our apartment and wishing we had pub food. So after the season ended, I had some more free time and I just thought it would be a nice way to take advantage of those late night cravings,” said Silverman. “People call me and I place the order with the pub. I go pay for it and pick it up—so to the pub I’m just another regular student customer, but instead of eating the food, I deliver it instead.”
Silverman plans to work 9 p.m. to midnight Sundays to Wednesdays and until 1 a.m. on Thursdays.
“I mostly get calls from upperclassmen who don’t want to make the trek all the way to Smith, especially when it’s snowing out or something,” he said. “I did actually get a call once from Coleman for a delivery from the food truck though.”
The pub offers students more than just grub though. Beginning Thursday nights and carrying on throughout the weekend, the pub hosts events like dance parties with guest DJs and a pool-ball-swallowing professional “regurgitator” in 2011.
According to Fisher, Thursday nights sell anywhere from 120 to 140 alcoholic beverages, while these numbers fall down to 12 to 24 on nights for the rest of the weekend. She added that despite high Thursday night attendance, Jack Magee’s often see the heaviest traffic when students see the heaviest workload.
“Student sales kind of fluctuate in a bell curve, rising towards the end of the year, and falling at break or the very beginning of the semester. April is probably our busiest month,” said Fisher.
In line with Bowdoin’s focus on across-the-board sustainability, the pub now offers eco-containers and reusable bags to cut down on packaging waste. They also punch cards for students who use the eco-friendly bags, and offer prizes after a certain amount of use.
“It’s been working decently. The number of people using them has been growing, but it’s still a little early to tell,” eco-rep Madeline Davis ’16 said.