After almost three years of anticipation and delays, Epicurean & Co. opened its doors to a select group yesterday in a pre-grand opening ceremony before it officially opens on Wednesday.

The invitation-only event, open to Darnall residents and selected faculty, featured a large sampling of Epicurean’s buffet-style menu, including lobster, sushi, steak and salads – all free of charge.

The entire Georgetown community has been invited to a grand opening with free food for students on Wednesday.

Students began lining up 30 minutes before the 11 a.m. opening yesterday, and the line continued out the door for the first hour of the event.

In addition to the all-you-can-eat buffet, guests were able to take food to go in take-out containers.

“I took four containers of food – two containers of fruit, one of sushi and one of their real buffet food,” Stephanie Hannah (MSB ’11) said.

The project started when Darnall Hall Cafeteria was closed in 2005 and the university began considering putting a restaurant in that location. In early 2006, the university chose Epicurean & Co., owned by restaurateur C.W. Chon. In April 2006, Chon signed a memorandum of agreement with the university, but delays prevented construction for over a year. A demolition license was issued on March 27, 2007, which allowed for a massive overhaul of the former Darnall Cafeteria. Since then, Chon has cited licensing and permit problems as causes for further delays, as the opening date was repeatedly pushed back.

While most of the menu was available for the opening, certain stations, including the panini and pizza stations, were not open yesterday.

And, although the restaurant obtained a liquor license after months of delays, the restaurant’s bar was also not open.

Darnall residents said they enjoyed the free food and the change of dining venue, but some expressed concerns about the expense of Georgetown’s newest dining option.

“My expectations were raised after the year-long construction, and I’m happy to say Epicurean hit the mark,” Patrick Scott (SFS ’11) said. “The food was delicious and the selection was pretty impressive – my only question is how much the buffet will cost.”

“The only disappointing thing is that instead of having a dining hall in our dorm, we have to pay,” Stephanie Wye (COL ’11) said. “It would be really nice if it were included in the meal plan, at least for Darnall residents.”

Epicurean & Co. will accept Flex Dollars, according to the Georgetown University Dining Web site.

Though many Darnall residents said they were pleased to see the end of the restaurant’s construction, not all were satisfied by the product of this long-awaited dining option.

“They tried to do too many different things and didn’t do any of it that well,” Lindsay Neubauer (COL ’11) said. “It was kind of overwhelming.”

Epicurean &Co. owner C.W. Chon could not be reached for comment.

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