Mercyhurst kicks off St. Paddy’s Day Weekend with pub opening

They call it Caffrey’s at Marquette, McGurk’s at St. Louis University, O’Rourke’s Public House at the University of Notre Dame and, at Mercyhurst University, The Roost. All of these college pubs share the same Celtic DNA and, judging from first impressions at The Roost’s grand opening over St. Paddy’s Day Weekend, Mercyhurst’s adaptation didn’t skimp on authentic Irish charm.

“It is beautiful. I have never been to Ireland, but I feel as though I am there now.”
Sister Kathryn Preston, RSM

“I think this will far exceed the expectations any student could possibly have imagined.”
Vince Marrazzo, MSG President

“I think you’ll find a little bit of Erie’s Sister City, Dungarvan, right here at Mercyhurst.”
John Melody, native of Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland

When Mercyhurst President Michael Victor announced plans to convert a section of the Laker Inn into an Irish pub last year – part of his overarching plan to create a college environment where students would have as many of their needs as possible met on campus – he knew just where to go for authenticity. Who better than native Irishman, Mercyhurst Hospitality Management alumnus, and successful Erie restaurateur John Melody? The founder and former owner of Molly Brannigans Irish Pub in downtown Erie, Melody now owns four U-Pick-6 establishments across Erie County, and is working on a new Bayfront restaurant.

Partnering Melody with Betsy Frank, Mercyhurst’s director of executive office projects and events, long admired for her decorating style, was a match that St. Patrick himself would have applauded. Their counsel created the entire look of the space, everything from the dark-hewn leather and plaid furniture to uncommon Irish bric-a-brac.

Taking pains to seek inspiration from its Irish roots as well as its Mercy heritage, Mercyhurst chose to name its pub The Roost, which references what many loosely identify as the college’s first student union. The Roost was a chicken coop situated behind Zurn Hall during the 1930s, which Mother Borgia Egan allowed a group of young women to transform into a campus lounge where they would be allowed to smoke. The students redecorated the coop with proper plumbing, a snack bar and a fireplace.

The Roost 2.0 includes a fully appointed bar and restaurant staffed by employees of the university’s food service vendor, Parkhurst Dining, as well as an adjacent conversational setting with a rustic stone fireplace anchored by plush leather couches. Named “The Playwright Snug,” it’s adorned with pictures of famous playwrights along with eclectic items from Melody’s collection of Irish memorabilia.

Besides House cocktails like the Irish Mule and Four Leaf Clover, the Roost features both draught and bottled beers along with wine. The menu offers Reuben Puffs, Fish & Chips, the Roost Burger, an assortment of Create Your Own Sandwiches, and much more, including decadent desserts like Chocolate Trifle, Lemon Cheesecake and traditional Irish Coffee.

In dedication remarks, President Michael Victor drew a connection between The Roost and our founding Sisters of Mercy:

“When Catherine McAuley was dying, she said to one of the sisters who had gathered at her bedside: ‘Be sure you have a comfortable cup of tea for them when I am gone.’ Ever since, the comfortable cup of tea has been a symbol of the warm and caring relationships that were at the heart of Catherine McAuley’s Mercy vision. And certainly it is at the heart of the hospitable, inclusive environment that we strive to engender every day here at Mercyhurst.

“But, there is an inside story. I have it on good authority that the comfort in that cup of tea came from a splash of good, old-fashioned Irish whiskey.”
President Victor couldn’t be sure whether the story was fact or fiction and he referred all fact-checking to the seven Sisters who attended the grand opening.

The pub will be open to all guests on campus, but will only serve alcohol to those 21 and over. Hours are Sunday through Wednesday, 5 to 10 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight.