Jack Magee's expands its culinary horizons
The pub has a new look.
Jack Magee's Grill has shed its burger-joint skin in an effort to provide students with more variety and healthier options. Previously a stop for diners in a rush and late-night, intoxication-induced orders, the grill has expanded its menu in its first overhaul since opening nine years ago.
Based on customer surveys and feedback from students, faculty, and staff, the grill has diverted its focus from the deep frier to lighter fare. Staple items like burger bundles and calzones are still present, except now they're sidled by baguettes and foccaccia.
Already, Dining Service employees are noticing the impact of the menu change. Tricia Gipson, Manager of Cash Operations and Student Employment, said, "In the past few days, sandwiches are selling much more than burgers. There's definitely been a trend towards more natural, organic foods."
Dining Services began planning the alteration in May 2003. In addition to feedback, they realized that students were going downtown to establishments like Wild Oats and Scarlet Begonias rather than eating on campus.
"We scoped out the competition and decided that the pub really needed a change," Gipson said.
Casualties include hot dogs and BLTs, nixed in favor of Thai-style vegetable dumplings and Monterey Jack quesadillas. Repeatedly requested specials like the "El Grande" burrito and the taco salad are now mainstays.
The description of the curried chutney chicken salad sandwich sounds more Wolfgang Puck than Jack Magee: flavorful curried chicken salad with raisins, toasted almonds, cilantro, mango chutney and a hint of lime on sourdough bread.
"A dedication to spices and subtle flavor is the last thing I'd expect out of Jack," senior Grant White said.
The ingredient vocabulary of the menu is greatly diversified and there is a slight expansion of cultural influences (albeit through an American take). Jenny Cline '05, after eating her new mandarin chicken salad, approved of the new fare at Magee's. "I felt pleasantly plump," she said.
However, some would like more. One Bowdoin senior said, "I'd like to see more diversity as far as food goes. Some Asian items would definitely be popular; so would a good fish or two...flaky fried fish doesn't count."
Others, like senior Ed Holmes, appreciate the change but aren't interested. "I always have the Polar Bear Burger Bundle anyway," he said while watching The Dave Chappelle Show at the bar. Legal reasons exclude the possibility of Polar Points for beer, denying students' number one request.
After only a week of operation, Magee's employees have seen consistent dinner rushes, as well as business from Brunswick residents. "As far as bringing in the locals, we don't target that market, so it'd have to be total word of mouth for them to find out," said Gipson.
1999-2000 was the final school year in which MaGee's delivered, a service that ended because of a Polar Point deal with Domino's. The pizza contract is now over, and door-to-door naturally appeals to those in the Bowdoin Arctic.
"We stopped because it wasn't profitable for us and because we had issues with food quality, long delivery times, and vehical problems. We also had problems with being able to offer delivery consistently because of student staffing either not showing up to work or getting 'lost' while delivering," Gipson said.
Going beyond the palate, Jack Magee's has added a new coat of paint to soften the dark decor. Gipson said that many students complained about lighting but that budgetary constrictions limit the possibilities. Space issues do not allow for more kegs on tap, but the fact that patrons go for "light, cheap beer" means that variety isn't first on anyone's list.
Jack Magee's is open from 11:30 a.m. on weekdays until midnight and from 7:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. on the weekend.
For information on sending a letter to the editor, please click here.