Brand new Brennan’s

With a brand new look and menu, Brennan’s restaurant in the Davis center underwent drastic changes over the summer in response to student feedback.Brennan’s was originally part of a New Orleans-based franchise known as World of Wings, or WOW. The previous restaurant offered upscale fast food such as fried chicken and Texas toast.According to Director of Student Life Pat Brown, there was a prevailing unhappiness from the student body over two main issues. “Students wanted more local products and healthier foods,” he said.According to University Dining Services Operations Director Tom Oliver, students also didn’t like Brennan’s appearance, saying that the colors, which WOW’s franchise used in their other branches, were too bright, and additionally, the service was too slow.”Two things happened when you walked in. You thought it was dirty because of the smell and you thought the food would be fast. Those two things couldn’t have been less true,” Oliver said.The movement for a new Brennan’s, driven by direct feedback from students and other community members through  last spring’s focus groups and a campus-wide survey, according to Brown, worked.Brown said $10,000 was spent on food service equipment. An additional $40,000 or so was spent on interior renovations such as a workable light dimming system, repainting of the room and new tabletops.Brown added that the money came from a budgeted amount that was spent on local vendors and service providers. It was also used to pay for carpentry and project manager costs.The restaurant is now a local food eatery, with a commitment to organic and all natural foods, what Oliver describes as “sustainable practices.”An item like the Farmer’s Breakfast which costs $5.75 and includes two cage-free eggs, Vermont potatoes, organic scallions and Vermont sour cream is an example of how many components of a meal are now locally grown. Oliver said that the items on the menu are now cheaper than they were last year.”Everything is homegrown, now, as opposed to paying a cost to the franchise. We’ve eliminated nooks and crannies where pennies are added to the cost,” he said.One of the sustainable practices Oliver referred to involves sending all the restaurant’s compost to Intervale Community Farm, a local farm that provides food for the Burlington area. The farm uses the compost from Brennan’s to grow crops, which are in turn bought by Brennan’s.”That’s a cycle that is very unusual to be able to complete,” Oliver said.Oliver also expressed the desire for Brennan’s to have a “Muddy Waters” feel to it.With new items on the menu, and a new, darker look, employees and students appear to be enjoying Brennan’s far more.June Sweet, who worked at Brennan’s both this year and last, said that “it wasn’t an easy adjustment, but we’re getting there. I like it a lot more this year.” Not all students, however, are pleased with the new Brennan’s.”Last year I could go to Brennan’s late at night and get greasy college food,” sophomore Anthony Baez said. “This year, there is less food variety, it costs more — as if the school doesn’t already charge enough — and even though I know it’s healthier, I don’t think it tastes as good.  And what happened to the wings?”UVM Senior Eliese Dykstra feels differently.”I love the new Brennan’s. It’s finally something that reflects what’s important to a lot of students, which is eating locall,” she said.