Beer and wine will soon flow more freely in the basement of McClendon Tower.
The 24-hour restaurant Pitchfork Provisions will begin serving beer and wine within the next few days, said co-owner Sam Clowney, who is also co-owner of Bella Union and La Dolce Vita and a partner at the Faculty Commons. In doing so, it will become the sixth on-campus facility to serve alcohol.
Clowney said that even though he and co-owner Chris Holloway want food to be the focal point of their restaurant, they have planned to serve alcohol since Pitchfork Provisions’ Fall 2011 opening. The process was slowed by “hoops” they had to jump through in order to secure a license from the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, but University administrators have always been supportive of the idea.
“If serving beer and wine can supplement the experience here on campus, we’re all for it,” Clowney added.
The owners will initially offer a selection of two or three brands of beer, in addition to one red and one white wine in what Clowney calls a “soft opening.” Selections will be based on a survey that has been distributed at the restaurant since before Thanksgiving Break, asking respondents to name their favorite light, domestic, international and local or craft beer.
Pitchfork Provisions was deemed a good place to offer beer and wine due to its proximity to residential buildings off the main West Campus Quadrangle, Rick Johnson, assistant vice president of student affairs for housing, dining and residence life, wrote in an email Monday.
Johnson said he sees McClendon Tower as a “satellite” of the Bryan Center for students residing in Edens, Keohane and Wannamaker Quadrangles, and should therefore offer similar amenities. McClendon Tower already has study, meeting and lounge spaces, in addition to a coffee café and 24-hour restaurant. The availability of alcohol to students of age is simply another step in making McClendon Tower more comparable to the Bryan Center, he said. The Tower, the restaurant formerly in the space Pitchfork Provisions now occupies, served beer and wine.
Senior Alex Mariakakis, who said he currently eats at Pitchfork Provisions once or twice each week, said he is looking forward to the convenience that will come with the restaurant serving beer and wine, and consequently may go to the restaurant more frequently.
“If I want my alcohol on food points, I go to Central now, to Food Factory,” he said. “Here it’s just more convenient, especially since I live in Edens.”
In order for an on-campus facility to serve alcohol, it must request approval from Duke Dining, which evaluates the request. If Duke Dining approves the application, the restaurant must then apply to the ABC Board to obtain a liquor license, Johnson said. Currently, the Food Factory, Nasher Café, Plate and Pitchfork and Twinnie’s have licenses to serve beer and wine, and Armadillo Grill has a full liquor license.
The bar at the Washington Duke Inn also serves alcohol that can be purchased with food points.
“While we believe that students can have a good time and build community without alcohol, the fact that some facilities are allowed to serve alcohol is simply a recognition that in today’s society, students of age and others may want a glass of beer or wine with their meal,” Johnson said.
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Although Clowney said Pitchfork Provisions is happy to offer beer and wine, he is also cognizant of the liability that comes with selling alcohol on a college campus.
“Things can get kind of unruly down here, and we don’t want to see it get any worse,” he said. “We’ve anticipated this and put the right procedures in place—we don’t want this place to become a watering hole.”