By Jessica Fetrow
It’s around 8:30 on a Friday night, and business is booming at Murphy’s Grill. Students are munching away on classic Three Cheese Grilled Cheeses with tomato soup, Murphy’s Burgers, and Bacon & Jalapeño Mac and Cheese, while loudly laughing and shouting over the restaurant’s classic rock soundtrack. In the front, hostess Jennifer Birkland, a sophomore nursing student, is trying to get the attention of a five person party ready to be seated.
“It gets kind of crazy here during nights,” said Birkland, trying to get the rowdy group’s attention while finishing up a to-go order for another customer on the phone. “People tend to think, ‘Oh, let’s go to Murphy’s tonight, it’s usually empty.’ But the problem is that everyone thinks that. At the same time. Every day. So, no, it’s usually never empty.”
Murphy’s Grill, located in the lower region of the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center, opened in October of 2017. The on-campus restaurant is named for Catholic University alumnus Michael Murphy, who died in 2007 from cancer after starting a fund to open an on campus bar and restaurant for Catholic University students.
The restaurant offers food to students and others diners on both a “Meal Exchange Menu” and a “Regular Menu.” Students tend to opt for the “Meal Exchange Menu,” a selection of meals that can be paid for with their student meal plan. The menu offers the Murphy’s Burger, a classic cheeseburger, and the Garden Burger, a veggie patty served with lettuce, tomato, and a jalapeño aioli. Both of these entrées come with a side of steak fries, sweet potato fries, or tater tots. The menu also offers mac and cheese with a bacon and jalapeño twist alongside a wide array of salads, such as a classic Caesar, a roasted pear salad, and a traditional Cobb salad.
“It’s really convenient having an option for such fresh, good food,” said sophomore Kristin Pepler. “I know that the food comes from the same place as the food from the student restaurant and food court do, but I don’t know, this just tastes so much better. Fresher, almost. And it’s even better we can use it for meal swipes.”
“Our busiest night is usually Thursday or Friday,” Birkland said. “We get tons of students coming in here trying to use up their last meal swipes for the week. Or we’ll have faculty and staff come in for a round of drinks after a long week.”
Students typically wait up to 15 minutes on most nights throughout the week for a table, sometimes having to wait up to 45 minutes for larger tables at busier times. The restaurant also caters to take-out orders, where students can order food over the phone or come in and place an order to-go, which typically has their meals ready around 10-20 minutes after ordering. Sophomore Caroline Perz prefers the eating-in experience.
“I just love eating in the restaurant,” Perz said. “It has such a vibe to it. It’s cozy. The fireplace in the wall and classic rock in the background, especially the music.”
Perz went on to describe how essential the music is to the aesthetic of Murphy’s. She said the “dad music” playing in the background is constant, no modern pop music plays. Except, she said, the rare occasion someone puts a dollar in the jukebox at the front of the store to play Mariah Carey’s 1994 song “All I Want For Christmas is You.”
She said the “home-y” vibe of the restaurant is what makes the restaurant a place for people to eat, lounge, and study. That is what makes it feel like, as stated on the Murphy’s Grill website home page, diners are “always among friends.”
Murphy’s Grill is open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m on Saturdays. Murphy’s is closed on Sunday.