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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

Legends of Notre Dame

Legends of Notre Dame amplifies student programming on campus

On a Tuesday evening earlier this semester, dozens of students representing five dorms piled into the club side of Legends, the University-run restaurant 100 yards south of Notre Dame Stadium.

In the “Battle of the Burger,” teams of about two to three students had five minutes and more than 30 potential ingredients to craft a hamburger that pleased a panel of judges and could get featured on Legends’ menu. While their dormmates scrambled to prepare presentable dishes, attendees hung back at tables spread across the venue, enjoying complimentary food and drinking beer.

Legends general manager Rakell Henderson and Laura O’Brien, a marketing program manager with University Enterprises and Events, said they want more student events to occur at the restaurant. “We would like to build the student programming,” Henderson told The Observer in January. “I would say it is at a zero right now, and I would love to see it at 100 by the end of the year.”

So far this year, on top of the burger-building contest, Legends has hosted shows by the stand-up comedy club, Latin dance nights, an AcoustiCafé, a senior class social, a trivia night for off-campus students and a Galentine’s Day get-together.

O’Brien said the ramp-up of student programming is part of an enterprise to make Legends a student hangout again.

To get students to stop-in for dinner casually, the restaurant has been selling appetizers half off from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays this semester. Furthermore, Legends has enticed sections of the student body, including competitors in the 2024 Bookstore Basketball Tournament and Holy Half Marathon, with coupons.

From Senior Bar to COVID-19 and beyond

A two-story brick house, which the University acquired about a century ago, once stood where Legends’ fenced patio exists today, according to Notre Dame Magazine. In the mid-20th century, the building served various purposes, such as housing University community members.

In January 1969, the senior class opened a club that sold alcohol in the house. Notre Dame Magazine reported that the club, which was known as “Senior Bar,” was the place to be on Thursday nights during the 1970s.

The house was demolished in 1982, making way for what would become Legends.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be the party spot again like it was when the students were running it,” Henderson said, adding that Legends could become a kind of pregame spot.

Henderson said she wants Legends to be the spot where students go when they’re craving a burger and a beer. “I want to be the spot where it’s like, ‘I kind of miss home. Let’s go to Legends because I know Annette the bartender is going to take care of me,’” she added.

The restaurant side of Legends has a capacity of about 225 people. O’Brien said students are welcome to dine at Legends anytime — not just when their parents are in town. Henderson said her favorite menu items are the Buffalo wings, the “gaucho asado” burger and the “king of campus” ribeye.

Legends club side

Students who competed in the “Battle of the Burger” stand behind their creation in the club side of Legends. The club side is a dynamic space with a stage. Courtesy of Laura O'Brien.

O’Brien added that students should feel like Legends’ club side and patio, which have a combined capacity of more than 500, are spaces that they can make their own.

“We want to feel like this place is just as much the students' as it is for alumni and people who like to travel through for games and different events,” O’Brien said. “So we are all ears.” If student groups have ideas about how to use Legends' spaces, O'Brien is willing to work with them to plan events, she added.

Legends shuttered its doors during the pandemic. The spot reopened in January 2023 as the pandemic waned and staffing levels at the University rebounded, according to Henderson.

Currently, the restaurant operates Tuesday through Saturday. Students may pay for Legends with flex points and place pickup as well as robot delivery orders through the Grubhub app, O'Brien said.

Henderson, who was formerly the general manager at Rohr’s, said that perhaps the most alluring aspect of Legends is that it’s for everyone. “It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, doesn't matter what you’re doing, who you are,” Henderson said. “Just come and eat at Legends.”

'I don't actually know why I haven't thought of Legends'

Luc Gelin, a junior studying finance, said he didn’t realize how close Legends was to the business school until dining there for the first time in March. “It’s not something that people really talk about here on campus that much,” Gelin said, adding that the restaurant exceeded his expectations.

Gelin and his friends had their meal paid for by one of their assistant rectors. The assistant rector had made a bet on a game of Super Smash Bros. with a resident, Gelin explained. “If he lost, he had to go to Legends with all of us and pay for us,” Gelin said. “So he lost that game.”

Junior Neol Gutierrez said he hasn’t gone to Legends because it seems fancy and probably costs more than Chick-fil-A. When The Observer informed Gutierrez that a student-run bar used to exist where Legends is today, he said: “They should bring that back.”

Sophomore Katie Finn said she ate at Legends one time this school year, ordering the “hot honey” tenders and a tortilla soup. Finn said she went to the restaurant for two reasons: It accepted flex points and she wished for a reprieve from dining hall food. “Their prices are like really reasonable for, I feel, how good a food it is,” she added.

Neev Gamble, a junior on the rowing team, said the lone time she was ever at Legends was for a SYR a couple years ago. “I’m a student-athlete, so I don’t really have a lot of time to just go out and get dinner,” Gamble said. “So I’m usually just focused on getting the quickest dinner I can.”

For Gamble, quick dinners are accomplished with dining hall swipes or stops at Campus Dining “express” locations and Eddy Street establishments like Chipotle. When Gamble does go out to eat, she said it’s normally on the weekend for a special occasion — a friend’s birthday, for example.

“If I wanted more of like a nicer restaurant, I feel like going off campus is more where you would find that … I don’t actually know why I haven’t thought of Legends as an option,” Gamble said.