Devil’s Bistro opens on Central

Students line up outside the Devil’s Bistro on Central Campus during Campus Council’s “Grand Central” party Friday evening.  The event celebrated the restaurant and Mill Village openings after months of delays.
Students line up outside the Devil’s Bistro on Central Campus during Campus Council’s “Grand Central” party Friday evening. The event celebrated the restaurant and Mill Village openings after months of delays.

The long-awaited Devil’s Bistro restaurant and Mill Village on Central Campus is finally open after months of construction and delays.

Campus Council hosted an opening called “Grand Central” in conjunction with the group’s 15th birthday celebration Friday.

The Devil’s Bistro is located at the former site of Uncle Harry’s General Store, which closed last June. The adjacent Mill Village includes the new Uncle Harry’s, an exercise facility, an activity center and a conference room.

“I regret that [the opening has] taken so long, but I’m glad it came out as well as it did,” said Steve Nowicki, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education.  

More than 1,000 students arrived for the opening, said Campus Council Programming Chair Betsy Klein, a sophomore. Although Campus Council originally planned for 500 attendees, everyone eventually got inside the restaurant.

The event featured a henna artist, a photo booth, live music performances, giveaways and samples of the Bistro’s food.

Junior Kathryn Hutchins said the combination of free alcohol, a bar and giveaways all located inside the restaurant resulted in the long lines.

“I just think it wasn’t very thought through,” Hutchins said.

The opening of Mill Village was delayed several times because of inclement weather and termite issues, Director of Dining Services Jim Wulforst said.

Campus Council worked with the administration in planning Friday’s grand opening. The delays made planning the event “stressful,” said sophomore Ben Goldenberg, outgoing Campus Council programming chair. He added that the final event was well received by students.

“This area has really revitalized Central Campus,” he said. “I had my doubts, but now I’m going to love living here next year. It will make Central a desirable place.”

The Bistro features an open-air kitchen, a small stage and an outdoor patio. As well as offering to-go items, the Bistro will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night meals. The menu includes selections of sandwiches, pizza, burgers, noodles, beer and wine.

“We’re really excited about this model,” said Michael Aquaro, district manager of Bon Appétit Management Company. “It brings forth a nice mix between a casual restaurant as well as a quick grab-and-go place.”

He added that Bon Appétit’s management of the Bistro will differ slightly from its administration of other Bon Appétit locations such as the Great Hall and the Marketplace. The menu will be static, only changing seasonally. In addition, the Bistro will have an online menu, allowing students to order food via text message. Bon Appétit is also partnering with Saladelia and Sushi Nara to feature some of their selections.

Executive Chef Tyrone Hall said he would like to serve 300 people every night and was encouraged by the large crowd during Friday’s opening celebration.

“We have come a long way from the hollowed-out shell that used to be here to a place that’s really nice,” Hall said.

Hall and General Manager Andrew Craven will run the Bistro with 18 employees. Unlike other Bon Appétit locations, the full-time employees are not part of the Durham-based Local 77 union, which includes hundreds of workers in housekeeping, facilities management and dining services on campus. The union filed a grievance several weeks ago against the University’s decision to employ independent workers.

The Bistro employees will work through June 15 until the restaurant closes for the summer. Bon Appétit will find them alternate employment until Fall, Aquaro said.

“We have a great group of employees who stuck with us throughout construction delays,” he said. “If we can avoid having them go two months without work, we’d like that.”

Aquaro said he received an “overwhelmingly positive” response from students regarding the new restaurant.

Senior Janelle Barth, a Central resident, said the new eatery is convenient, although she wishes it had been open earlier.

Sophomore John Mekjian, who will live on Central next year, said the Bistro makes living on Central much more appealing.

“I’ll be here all the time,” he said. “The restaurant is beautiful, and it makes Central Campus much more sightly. There’s a lot more open space and it’s more inviting.”

Aquaro, Nowicki and Wulforst said they hope Mill Village becomes a hangout for students.

“We really want this place to be a gathering area where students can come and relax, an oasis on Central Campus,” Aquaro said.

Hutchins said she believes the eatery will serve Central residents primarily, adding that she expects to stop by about 4 to 5 times per semester because she lives off campus.

Aquaro said he believes all students will come and experience the new Village regardless of their housing locations.

“We want the place to be packed every single day,” he said. “I’m confident that students and guests who come and experience it will certainly want to return.”


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