Part Two of Two: The Inn at Swarthmore and the Broad Table Tavern
For locals, it may be a place to rendezvous over an adult beverage, get together to watch a game on TV, or savor a farm-to-table meal. For out-of-towners, it will be a comfortable place to stay while visiting Swarthmore, Media and environs, including the Brandywine Valley and Philadelphia. For a Swarthmore College project team, in particular, it will be the delivery of a project nearly two decades after its conception.
The Inn at Swarthmore will open its doors to hotel and restaurant, and bar customers in mid-May, but the real shakedown for the Inn management will be Swarthmore College commencement weekend, May 27-29. There’s plenty still to do in the interim, said general manager Rob McDevitt, “This will be the seventh hotel that I’ve opened. It’s a lot of work, blood sweat and tears, but everyone is working hard to be ready to open. We’ve hired most key employees, including the executive chef, but I’m still doing anywhere from 3 to 10 interviews a day.”
Brianna Pickett, director of sales and marketing, said, “Commencement is crucial for us. We’ll reach back out to families who held a room to confirm their stay, and we expect to be full for that weekend. In fact, we already have rooms booked for other popular dates throughout the college year.”
Hotel pricing will vary by season and demand, but will be comparable to other hotels in the region, with prices ranging from roughly $150 to the mid to high 200s per room. McDevitt, a 30-year veteran in hospitality in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, said, “The Inn is a unique property in this area — as it has adjacent retail and restaurant spaces.”
Thoughtfully designed guest rooms will be enlivened by original artwork collected for the Inn over recent years, all created by Swarthmore College students and alumni.
The inn and restaurant are run by Olympia Hotel Management of Portland, Maine. Pickett comes to Swarthmore via Chicago, where she worked with Olympia’s Hyatt Place at the University of Chicago. “Hotels on campuses are Olympia’s specialty, and I’m trying to build the same kind of relationship with Swarthmore that we had with the University of Chicago. We have to keep in mind visiting families of students and applicants, new students, and faculty and make sure we have all of their milestones and conference dates on the calendar. But we will also attract tourists and other travelers.”
Fitting into the Town of Swarthmore
For most of us in the 610 area code, the Inn’s pleasures will be found on the ground floor, where general manager McDevitt said the Broad Table Tavern restaurant will offer a seasonal, farm-to-table menu, using local produce. Pricing will be “within the market range for restaurants in Media and the surrounding areas.”
On a terrace adjoining the tavern, an outdoor fireplace will face the field house road for sunset and summer unwinding. The bar will serve pub food, as well as the first alcoholic drinks sold in Swarthmore in at least 66 years. “With TVs in the bar, we’ve heard from several people, including the mayor, that they’re hoping we’ll tune in the Phillies, soccer and football games, and other events from time to time,” said Greg Brown, Swarthmore College’s vice president for finance and administration.
Brown said, “Our goal was to blend in with the town and be a part of it. In fact, with the Inn, downtown feels a little bigger than it used to. And now that the roundabout is in effect, people see more of the town as they pass. I’m hoping we’ll see more and more new businesses in town and support for our current merchants.”
“The approach through the roundabout invites you into the campus a bit more, and it also opens up the downtown area,” agreed Anthony Coschignano, executive director of auxiliary services at Swarthmore College. “The merchants I’ve spoken with are excited and expecting that the Inn will bring visibility and foot traffic,” both from guests at the inn and restaurant, and students attracted to the Ville by the Campus and Community Store. Already, Anthony said, the determination has been made that beginning this fall, students should have the ability to use their new “OneCard” as currency with participating Swarthmore restaurants and food stores.
Lora Pietrangelo, owner of Harvey Oak Mercantile on Park Avenue in Swarthmore, has convened Swarthmore merchants and proprietors with Anthony Coschignano. “We’re hopeful that the opening of the inn, restaurant and store will be an exciting town-wide event. My personal feeling is that anything that brings more people to Swarthmore will be good for business. I’m excited to try the farm-to-table cuisine and enjoy a drink at the Broad Table Tavern.”