Hostess says University Club is Ideal Place to Build Community or Relax


 
Debbie Mathre, hostess of Wesleyan’s University Club, serves a tray of treats inside the eatery on 164 Mt. Vernon Street.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Q: When did you start at Wesleyan?

A: About eight years ago. I had been laid off from an office-job and was looking for work and there was an opening at the campus center. Cooking was always a hobby of mine, so I applied, and got a job behind the line.

Q: And when did you start working for the University Club?

A: The University Club has been in existence for many, many years, but I moved over there about four years ago. Then, the University Club was inside the Downey House. It was a place for faculty and staff to eat, and at one point it was for students, too.

Q: And what brought it here, to the Mt. Vernon Street location?

A: When they started remodeling the Downey House into classrooms, we were relocated here. This house was owned by Wesleyan and Henry Abelove, professor of English and American Studies, lived here. He had moved out, so they moved the University Club in here.

Q: How would you describe the dining atmosphere of the University Club?

A: The University Club has always been a nice place to meet, or just get away from the office and have a nice meal. Faculty and staff can network here, and build community.

Q: What would you tell people that haven’t seen the new University Club?

A: If you ever want to take a stroll around campus, and pass by, by all means, come by and take a look. There’s plenty of parking here, but it’s also a nice walk. I’m happy to show people around.

Q: How is business?

A: Business could be better, and I blame that on our move. Many faculty and staff think that after we left the Downey House we didn’t exist anymore, but we’re still here. It is farther off campus, and we’re in a residential neighborhood, but we are so close to the Center for Film Studies and fine arts, and I’m surprised we’re not at least getting those crowds.

Q: What are the advantages of being here?

A: When we were in the Downey House, it was very dark. Dark paneling and tiles. Here, we have redecorated and it has a cozy, homey feel to it. And there’s lots of light.

Q: What kinds of meals are served here?

A: People have the option of getting soup and salad, a sandwich or wrap, buffet, dessert and beverages, or combinations of those items. They can dine in or grab and go.

Q: How do people know what is being served every day?

A: We have a menu line at x3090, option 5. Or they can call me directly at x6300.

Q: How do employees pay?

A: They can pay by cash or check, but they can also charge it to their ID cards for payroll deduction.

Q: What is a typical day like for you here?

A: I come in at around 9:30 a.m. and unload the dishwasher, make sure the tables are set, take care of any special needs or prepare for groups that have reserved a table, I set up the whole buffet, and then assist the student workers with dishes and clearing tables. During lunch, I greet people at the door, run the cash register and take telephone reservations.

Q: Can faculty and staff can display their artwork here?

A: Yes. We will display artwork, books, crafts, pottery or other forms of art free of charge. They can display it for show, or they can try to sell it here.

Q: So it’s just you and the students who run this place?

A: Yes. Six students and myself. We keep it nice and small.

Q: Do you get to do much cooking at home?

A: No, not so much anymore. I work another part-time job in a library, and I spend a lot of time knitting, gardening and training my Airedale, so there’s not much time left to cook.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor