Look inside Sacred Heart University’s ’50s diner

jp diner storefront

About three and half years ago, John Petillo, president of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., approached the university’s dining team with an idea to open a ’50s-style diner on campus. “When we heard about it, we were really excited to partner with the university on it because I don’t think there’s anything like it on other campuses in the New England area,” says Chartwells Resident District Manager Mark Tammone. Named after Petillo himself (and chosen by students in a naming contest), JP’s Diner offers students a retro dining experience with modern amenities. Read on for an inside look.

Old-school design

jp diner

At 4,500 square feet, JP’s seats 110, with additional space for 40 outdoors. Featuring classic diner booths and counter seating, the space doubles down on the midcentury theme with a jukebox and TVs on either side of the diner that play black-and-white TV shows such as “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” on a loop. 

Retro menu

jp diner menu

As with every other aspect of the diner, Petillo was heavily involved in menu development. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, JP’s offers classic diner fare such as egg sandwiches, burgers, floats and club sandwiches, as well as Jersey disco fries (a combination of gravy and cheese fries) in homage to Petillo’s New Jersey background. Takeout is a key component; students who order ahead can get any item from the full sit-down menu to go. Students can also use their dining dollars to purchase meals.

Late-night option

jp diner table

JP’s is now the dining venue open the latest on campus, serving food until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1 a.m. during the rest of the week. Previously, the latest dining option was a retail location open until 1 a.m., Tammone says. “This was the perfect venue to expand our hours a little bit and add a really cool option for students.” 

Student staffed

jp diner conversation

Since the diner features table service, students are employed as servers, managers, hostesses and cooks. Tammone says that interns from Chartwells’ student success internship program will also serve as some of the staff.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
fish tacos

From High Liner Foods.

Younger consumers are driving an increased focus on sustainability, and more consumers overall are demanding a wider variety of seafood on menus. With shifting interest in seafood, operators need to be familiar with the seafood consumer—who they are, what they’re looking for and when they eat it—to more effectively boost interest in seafood dishes.

Understand consumer habits

Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report finds that 65% of consumers eat seafood at least occasionally (once every 90 days or more), either as an...

Industry News & Opinion

The Missouri House of Representatives has initially approved a bill that would enable students with dietary issues to forgo mandatory meal plans at public colleges and universities, U.S. News reports.

Approved Tuesday, the bill would grant students with medical documentation of food sensitivities, food allergies or medical dietary issues the right to opt out of meal plans.

Supporters of the bill say it will allow students to not have to pay for food they can’t safely eat, while opponents say that the bill will negatively impact schools financially. According to legislative...

Industry News & Opinion

A study released by Sodexo indicates that gender-balanced management improves team performance.

The 2018 study is an expansion of a previous Sodexo study that launched in 2014. The expanded study analyzed 50,000 managers in all levels of management from 70 entities around the world over five years.

The study found that teams managed by 40% to 60% women had better employee and client retention, saw fewer workplace accidents and increased their operating margins and employee engagement.

Industry News & Opinion

Rick Farmer, executive chef for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and Stephanie Powers, executive chef of Spring Harbor, a retirement community in Columbus, Ga., were crowned the winners of MenuDirections’ 2018 Culinary Competition.

Split into teams of two, chefs had 60 minutes to prepare and plate their own entrees using a preselected basket of ingredients such as beans, mushrooms and orange sauce. Each dish was judged on its presentation, taste and creativity.

The winning dish was orange glazed pork with a black bean and wild mushroom cake topped...

FSD Resources