Nearly three years after the Darnall Hall cafeteria closed to the public, Epicurean and Co. finally opened its doors to customers yesterday with a sizzling kickoff week of promotional events.

In an effort to entice customers and whet appetites around campus, the new restaurant offered complimentary lunches and dinners this week for students, faculty and residents of neighboring Georgetown before it officially opened its doors for business yesterday.

On Monday, Epicurean and Co. held an opening reception with free food exclusively for selected Georgetown staff and their invited guests, as well as Darnall Hall residents, who were accidentally invited after an e-mail miscommunication.

Despite the error, Hieu Pham, general manager of Epicurean and Co., said the event went smoothly and that all who came were able to eat.

The following night, Epicurean held a black-tie grand opening party for its business partners and selected Georgetown staff.

The festivities continued Wednesday with a free lunch from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Over 1,000 people attended, with some hungry patrons in line for one to two hours, Pham said.

To accommodate the crowds, diners were given one plate upon entering, a change from Monday’s take-out offerings. Pham said that to-go boxes were available, but diners took multiple boxes full of food, which slowed down the line for those who wanted to eat. Also new Wednesday, the deli and pizza areas were open for business.

That night, approximately 300 residents from Georgetown and the surrounding area were invited for a private dinner.

Even though Wednesday night’s dinner was not planned to include students, many who thought the offer for a free lunch extended to dinner nevertheless formed a line that extended nearly to the front doors of Darnall.

Pham said many of the students were eventually invited in to the restaurant, estimating that over 750 students, hospital staff and neighborhood residents ate during dinner on Wednesday.

He characterized the restaurant’s opening week as a tremendous success.

“I’m so thankful to my boss and staff,” Pham said. “I think this will be very successful and everyone will be happy with the food. Everyone seemed interested, and I want Hoyas to be invested in Epicurean.”

Yesterday, Epicurean embarked on its first day of normal business.

The restaurant will be open seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., serving breakfast for $5.99 per pound and lunch and dinner both for $7.49 per pound. Additional options of sushi, hibachi and deli will feature individually priced dishes on menus.

Diners can pay by GOCard, credit card or cash, but the restaurant does not accept Flex Dollars. In January, though, university spokesperson Julie Bataille said the restaurant would accept Flex Dollars.

It is still working on the use of the meal plan, according to its owner, C.W. Chon. Yesterday, though, diners were only offered to pay with cash because the credit card machine was not working.

Epicurean has a seating capacity of 297 customers, and the space can be rented out for private parties. It is currently working on a separate catering option. Although they plan to serve alcoholic beverages, the bar is yet to be stocked since the restaurant has yet to be granted a liquor license, Pham said.

Pham said that the management of Epicurean and Co. fears that the lack of parking would discourage business from local residents. Because of this, future plans may include a valet service, he added.

As their first week of business comes to a close, Epicurean and Co. has been well-received by many students.

“I thought it was fantastic. I definitely plan on coming back. I was particularly intrigued by the Hibachi grill,” Eric Estey (SFS ’08) said.

“They offer a lot of options. I hope they’re not trying to do too much,” Kevin Shiiba (MSB ’10) said. “It’s a really good effort, I hope it works out.”

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