A British-style pub is now open in the Italian-style piazza in the Ave Maria town center.
Hundreds of Ave Maria residents, students and faculty thronged the Queen Mary Pub and Grille at its opening on Friday, Sept. 11, spilling out into the town's piazza until late in the evening.
"This is just what the town needed, a place to meet and hang out," said resident Drew Emmans, who celebrated his 30th birthday with a group of friends on the pub's opening night.
Emmans's views were echoed by scores of other patrons, who had high praise for the quality of the Queen Mary's food as well as its overall ambiance. "It's a really great menu, and fantastic to have a full-service restaurant in the town," said Bob Oshinsky who, with his wife, Rosie, placed one of the first food orders.
At a nearby table, Oshinsky's friend Carlos Figeuroa proudly pointed to a spot on the pub's drinks menu where the "Carlos Mojito" bears his name.
The Queen Mary opened its doors at 4 p.m. Friday, with Ave Maria University professor Fr. Robert Mcteigue blessing the premises -- and also one of its main offerings. Confirming views that the Catholic Church has a blessing for most everything, Fr. McTeigue invoked a blessing for beer, in both Latin and English from the old Roman Missal: "Bless, O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord."
The Queen Mary is initially opening on afternoons/evenings on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Co-owner Daniel Dix says that he hopes to open other days in the week later in the year according to demand. Hours on the first weekend were adjusted at the last minute because of requests from many residents for the pub to be open earlier Saturday and Sunday so they could watch college- and pro-football games on the Queen Mary's two high-definition televisions.
"It's so great to see the community come out and get together," Mr. Dix said. "I never wanted to go into the restaurant business specifically," he added, "I wanted to have a great community spot."
The patrons on Friday were a reflection of that community, with tables of university students next to families with children of all ages.
The Dixes asked everyone to sign a cricket bat as a memento of the evening. Fr. Robert Tatman, administrator of the quasi-parish of the Ave Maria Oratory, added his name.
Opening night music was provided by the Dittus brothers of Ave Maria, who played a mix of songs that included tunes from Ireland and the British Isles.
The Queen Mary offers a menu of Amercian cuisine, pub favorites and British-influenced dishes such as bangers and mash, shepherd's pie and a ploughman's platter. There is a full bar, and beers on tap include Guiness, Boddington's, Fuller's London Pride and Newcastle Brown Ale as well as Bud Lite. Reservations are not accepted. There is both indoor and outdoor seating and -- if opening night is any indication -- many people will prefer to be outside.