The first word that comes to mind when walking into The Refectory Bar & Restaurant is: inviting.
This restaurant is nestled in the heart of Villanova’s campus. The aesthetic inside is no other than “a vibe.” It has the energy of a Speakeasy. Soft, yet upbeat music plays in the background, from the occasional hit you’d hear on the radio to a 1980s classic.
[Ed note: Note to self – do NOT write articles about food on an empty stomach.]
Attentive bartenders are waiting to cater to you, happy to answer questions about the menu. Your water glass will never be left unfilled.
The atmosphere effortlessly combines elegance with comfort. You can tell the interior was carefully curated to create a relaxed environment. The blue leather booths and bar stools compliment the mahogany tables and bar top. Green plants are placed throughout the restaurant, bringing a pop of earthy color into the establishment. Photographs hang on the wall, each one showcasing a different photo from Villanova’s campus.
Our team – Kat Dingee, Digital Marketing Coordinator, Casey McBride, Marketing Manager and Scott McIntyre, Wholesale Market Manager – sat at the bar and chatted with Gina Geyner, General Manager at The Refectory. We were spoiled with an array of delicious food for lunch, so it’s good that we all came hungry. A creative food menu awaited us. Gina presented us with three dishes that paired well with Cape May IPA. We had the restaurant's staple “Nova Fries” made with brisket and pickled red onion, the Rock Shrimp Tacos, made with sweet chili sauce and cilantro, and lastly, the Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, which were so delicious we all forgot we were eating a vegetable. All of these dishes paired well with Cape May IPA on draft. The buffalo flavoring in the Cauliflower Bites brought out the zesty finish in our Cape May IPA, while the sweet sauce in the Rock Shrimp Tacos brought out the bold and hoppy flavors. The unexpected, yet best part, was the way the tangy pickled red onions had the power to enhance the floral notes in the Cape May IPA. Our taste buds were all doing a happy dance by the time lunch was over! If you’re visiting The Refectory, you can find Cape May IPA listed as “Alumni IPA” on the menu.
“Why did The Refectory decide to choose Cape May IPA as the Alumni IPA on draft?", we asked Gina.
“Someone from our team mentioned how one of the owners from Cape May Brewing Company was a Villanova alumni, so it made perfect sense to us,” said Gina. “There wasn’t even a second thought. We knew we needed to make this happen.”
[Ed note: Ryan Krill, one of our owners, graduated from Villanova. Go Wildcats!]
Gina herself has a personal connection to Cape May, so she understands the feeling of getting out of the city for the weekend to relax at the shore.
“The Cape May connection and community ties into a lot of what we do here. This is a really big shore community, so we're happy to support a brand and beer that so many people here know and love,” said Gina.
Just like you, we can’t believe summer has ended. It came and went too fast, as it usually does. As for Gina, she couldn’t wait for the fall season to begin and for the students to come back for the start of a new semester.
“There’s a different type of energy when everyone’s back on campus,” said Gina. “I meet so many different people during the fall season, yet they all bring the same exciting energy. Whether it’s two parents enjoying dinner with their child who is starting their freshman year at Villanova, or it’s a group of seniors coming in to celebrate their final year together, the energy on this campus is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
It’s obvious that The Refectory holds a lot of special memories for so many people. We asked Gina if she had any that stood out to her throughout her time working there.
“There was this one group of seniors who would all come in every time someone from the friend group turned 21,” said Gina. “When they left, they wrote us a really nice card thanking us for allowing them to explore alcohol here. It was really touching. There was another time when two parents drove up at midnight to meet their son here to have a beer with him for his 21st birthday. It’s nice to see things like that happening at the restaurant you work at.”
Whether you're celebrating a special occasion, enjoying a night out with friends, or simply seeking a memorable dining experience, The Refectory should be at the top of your list. Enjoy the Cape May IPA on draft, along with one of their seasonal dishes on the menu.
And of course, don’t forget to treat yourself to dessert!