NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Rutgers Club, a restaurant closely intertwined with campus culture, has relocated from its longtime home in New Brunswick to a new location in Piscataway.
As the Club celebrated its 60th birthday with donations from alumni, including a generous gift from the class of 1957–the year the club was founded–plans were moving forward to demolish the building the club has resided in since its beginning.
As a part of long-term facilities overhaul, the building that the Rutgers club website described as one of the city’s “venerable old houses,” built in 1915, will be no more.
Instead, the restaurant re-opened on September 5 in a new space on the second floor of the Living Campus Dining Commons, a three-mile drive from the original location.
“In recent years, operating and maintaining the club in its current location has proven to be fiscally unsustainable,” wrote Dr. Felicia McGinty, Chancellor of Student Affairs in an email to students and faculty this past May. “This move will ensure the continuity of The Rutgers Club.”
As of now, the club boasts more than 2,000 members, including alumni, faculty staff and university supporters.
The institution’s new home includes a larger dining room, a “state-of-the-art” bar, outdoor patio seating, a full modern kitchen, a multi-purpose room for meetings and events, and “additional technologies and amenities,” according to McGinty's email.
The Club has said it will strive to “ensure that the new space carries a charm unique to the original,” which includes bringing current employees to the new facility.
This has not been the first attempt at moving the Club, however. In 2005, the The proposed building the 30-story transit building now know as The Gateway.
At the time, the Star Ledger reported that the club was to be moved to the ground floor of a new highrise, the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) "Gateway building." The club would have been next to the University bookstore and a new visitor’s center.
For reasons that remain unclear, those plans were nixed and now both the restaurant and the visitor's center have found homes across the Raritan River in Piscataway.
“When Gateway was built we tried hard to have the Rutgers Club moved to the second floor above the Bookstore with a terrace overlooking Old Queens,” wrote Chris Paladino, President of DEVCO, on an online message board.
"There would have been en entrance at Easton and Somerset Street with a ground floor Pub Space opened to the public with the private club and catering area upstairs," wrote Paladino. "Would have been perfect for wedding receptions for weddings at Kirkpatrick or St, Peters also."
"Rutgers dining told us nobody in their right mind would put a Club upstairs," explained the developer. "Now they are putting the Club in Piscataway upstairs in a dining hall…Go figure."
Another alumnus posted on the same board: "Somehow this University has managed to survive and thrive over the course of 250 years, despite the idiotic decisions its administrators make. How you choose to move the Rutgers Club to Livingston over the Gateway is beyond me."
Although some students and Alumni in the thread were for the change to Livingston Campus, many pointed out that locating the club in the heart of Rutgers social life would have been a wise choice, despite parking challenges that some speculated to be the crux of the decision:
If [alumni] are looking to reconnect to their college years, they are more likely to want to be on College Ave, as that was the hub of college life for most…Maybe I worry about traffic patterns and convenient parking if I'm looking to open an Applebees. That's why there are more Applebees in Piscataway rather than New Brunswick. But the fact that there are many more upscale restaurants in New Brunswick than Piscataway suggests that for destination dining, those issues are not paramount.
Rutgers staff were unavailable to answer any questions. Rutgers Dining Services, Vice Chancellor McGinty, and Assistant Director of Public Relations Media Communications Neal Buccino did not respond to multiple calls and emails from New Brunswick Today.