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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

On the Rocks is misused and under-utilized

Peyton McKenzie
On the Rocks Pub and Grill is open weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Incredible wait times, slightly above average food, average entertainment and mediocre service. Those are all things a restaurant cannot have when it is only open two days a week for eight hours total.

The Rocky Top Student Center on Quinnipiac University’s York Hill Campus opened in August 2010. Nearly a decade later, On the Rocks Pub and Grill opened right inside, becoming a marquee spot for the school to market toward prospective students. In the time since, the university’s own restaurant has just been disappointing.

On the Rocks is an dining option that allows students to have a restaurant-style experience without leaving the confines of Quinnipiac’s campus. There are exclusive meals, pool tables, dozens of televisions and for those of age, the option to purchase alcoholic beverages.

The whole experience sounds too good to be true. In a sense, it is.

The facility is advertised online by Quinnipiac as “a regular spot to casually meet with friends,” which based on the facility’s hours, is a huge stretch.

Since its complete opening in October 2021, the pub has only ever been open two days a week from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Based on those hours, it’s nearly impossible to make On the Rocks a regular place to visit.

Two days a week was forgivable in 2021 and 2022, when it was open on Monday and Thursday. On the Rocks was a place to watch football and otherwise kick off or wind down your week.

However for 2023, management chose to open the restaurant Wednesdays and Thursdays. Back-to-back days, smack dab in the middle of the week.

Before, students were able to space out their On the Rocks trips throughout the week. But now, the choice needs to be made between going only once during the week or going twice in a row. And if someone has classes that run from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., they’re basically out of luck.

Being open until 10 p.m. has the potential to help York Hill residents with late classes get some food at night, since the dining hall closes at 9 p.m., which is a problem in itself. But that option is only available two of the four days where classes go that late.

On the Rocks is open so infrequently that it is not listed as an option on Quinnipiac Dining’s hours of operation page. More often than not, on nights that the restaurant is closed, the booths are used by students as a quiet, comfy place to study.

It was never meant to be this way. On the Rocks opened in February 2020, a little bit before the university shut down amid the onset of COVID-19. While the hours were going to be limited that semester, an article by QUToday from Feb. 28, 2020, said, “The goal is to eventually have the space open five days a week beginning in the (2020) fall (semester).”

That statement now begs the question: “how far back did COVID-19 set the development of On the Rocks?

Five days a week seems unfathomable with how the facility’s been run over the past three years, but it had to have been possible at one point or another.

This semester, On the Rocks made its grand opening on Thursday, Sept. 14. When talking to a group of students dining that night, their consensus was that the facility needed to be open more than two days a week.

Sometimes On the Rocks is open one or two extra days a week, the days when men’s ice hockey plays at home. That stipulation adds nine more days this semester for students to enjoy the pub’s offerings, but there are so many opportunities for the space to be better utilized that the school chooses not to exercise.

Notably, On the Rocks was not open for either of the men’s ice hockey team’s games during its NCAA Frozen Four run this past spring. What was arguably the biggest moment in university history was not enough for the restaurant to be open an extra two days for students who wanted to experience the games together. Instead, small gatherings were held literal steps away in the Rocky Top seating area.

Without regular weekend hours, the restaurant also misses out on the chance to take hold of a regular crowd that comes to watch college football on Saturdays and professional football on Sundays. Being open during the evening has its perks, but a Sunday afternoon schedule could be quite popular if On the Rocks chooses to go that route and markets it well.

Marketing is something the restaurant currently does not succeed at. The only way it spreads the word is through its Instagram account, which is completely separate from Quinnipiac Dining’s social media, an account that has nearly 3,000 more followers.

The Quinnipiac website doesn’t promote the facility either. Prior to the 2023 “grand opening,” the website did not mention On the Rocks. The only way to read about it on the site was to look at the event calendar, where it was mentioned at the absolute bottom.

This is an amazing facility that has the opportunity to be the cornerstone of the York Hill campus, and if it’s wasted through limited hours and poor publicity.

Quinnipiac takes pride in the fact that On the Rocks is fully student-managed, but is this the place to be experimenting in that fashion?

When run and staffed by university students, an on-campus restaurant is limited to the hours said students have free in their schedules. If the facility was run instead by a third-party company like Chartwells, which manages the rest of the university’s dining, then maybe there wouldn’t be a problem.

Chartwells employees already run the kitchen aspect of On the Rocks, so why not go back to how it was in 2021 and have the company manage the whole operation? Or, if the student-run nature of the place is non-negotiable, why not just hire more students?

Management can do so many things to make the pub more prevalent on campus, not just a place where people go on special occasions.

The concept and atmosphere of On the Rocks is unmatched across the entire Quinnipiac community. It can be nearly anything it wants to be. It should be the hub of all social events on the York Hill Campus. Instead, students have to find out through word of mouth when it is open compared to it being an intuitive thing.

And if the restaurant being open more isn’t the point, then why is it hyped up so much?

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About the Contributors
Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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