Just months after The Loop closed the doors to its on-campus venue, students are already enjoying its replacement.
Gothic Grill, located at The Loop's former venue on the second floor of the Bryan Center, opened at the start of fall 2023 and celebrated its grand opening Wednesday. True to its name, the restaurant's distinctive decor is based on Gothic architecture, with a gargoyle statue greeting patrons entering the restaurant.
Sophomore Austin Brown appreciates that the theme of the Gothic Grill is "a lot more intentional" than The Loop.
“I also just love how they decorated it, especially in the evenings with the fun lighting,” junior Emily McReynolds said. “Having the barstools but also the normal low-top tables is great because once I’m there … I feel like I’m in a real restaurant. I don’t feel like I’m still on campus.”
According to Eric Burchfield, managing partner of Thrive Kitchen and Catering, the restaurant’s decor was an intentional choice made to differentiate the grill from The Devil’s Krafthouse, which is also run by Thrive.
Duke Dining wrote in a May release that as The Loop's former location transitions to Thrive Kitchen and Catering, the venue will be renovated to “expand the space’s capabilities for special events hosted by student groups."
Burchfield emphasized that students who miss certain menu items from The Loop should not worry.
“I think one of the ways we’ve been able to be successful on campus is we do listen to what student feedback is,” he said. “We had a lot of people telling us the Caesar chicken wrap was a big hit at The Loop … we’re adding back the Caesar chicken wrap.”
Some popular menu items include the Gothic SmashBurger with its signature aioli, Gothic Grill’s distinctive crispy fries and the locally sourced Maple View ice cream.
McReynolds likes the restaurant’s approach to French fries because of its difference from those offered by other campus vendors.
“They’re a little bit flatter, and have more black pepper,” she said. “It’s not like your typical fast food.”
Burchfield also added that the managing team is working on getting the restaurant’s menu added to the Mobile Order App.
The Loop had been a staple at Duke since 2000, and many students were sad to see it go when its contract expired at the end of the 2022-23 academic year. The same year, another campus favorite, Panda Express, closed its on-campus doors and will be replaced by It's Thyme, an allergen-free restaurant.
However, The Loop's influence hasn’t been completely erased from campus, as Burchfield noted that several employees from The Loop transferred to work at the Gothic Grill.
For first-year Emily Barragan, the Gothic Grill is a "little restaurant bubble" and a welcome opportunity to step away from campus life.
“The vibes of Gothic Grill were very conversational,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a part of Duke.”
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