When members of the student body found out in December that the beloved sandwich restaurant Shenanigans was reopening, no one had any idea just how quickly the reopening was happening. “I thought it wasn’t going to happen until the beginning of the next Advent semester,” says Jack Russell (C’17). So it was a pleasant surprise when the restaurant opened its doors on January 31.
After being closed for more than a year, Shenanigans was purchased by Nelson Byrd, a member of the Sewanee Class of 2003, and Bill Elder, whose wife, Susie, is also a Sewanee graduate (C’94). After the deal was made official on January 10, the two men set a tentative soft reopening date for February 1 of this year, and plan to host a grand, official re-opening later in the semester. On the “Save Shenanigans” Indiegogo website (a link can be found at the bottom of the article), Byrd and Elder list projects planned for restoring Shenanigans to its full former splendor, including a repurposing of the back room to provide more seating, installing a PA system and removable stage in the main room, new equipment, and a refinishing of the upstairs.
Despite the seemingly large list of things to do, the restaurant looks spectacular. I was lucky enough to be able to go for dinner on February 1. The interior of the restaurant was warm and festive-feeling, though the latter might just have been due to the amount of energy radiating from everyone still excited about the opening. There wasn’t a lot of seating, so it did feel a bit crowded at some points, but once the back room is opened and the crowds Owners Nelson Byrd (left), and Bill Elder have evened out, that most likely won’t continue to be an issue. I went into the meal with extremely high expectations, having heard upperclassmen rave about the Shenanigans of old, and was not disappointed.
The menu is small for now, but that’s probably for the best, considering I was having trouble deciding between eight or so sandwiches. In the end, I decided on the patty melt, which turned out to be the best sandwich I’ve had in a long time. Everything on the menu is less than ten dollars, which is definitely a good thing, considering most of the restaurant’s patrons will be college students. The patty melt didn’t come with any sides, but it was substantial enough to where I felt satisfied after just the sandwich. It was definitely a nice bit of variety from the standard McClurg burger. I left feeling incredibly content, and wanting to come back again soon.
If Shenanigans was that delicious within two days of opening, then I can only wait to see how much better it will get from there. Byrd and Elder cite their long-term goal is “to bring back Shenanigans– the way it once was. We want everyone to walk in and find it the same place it was in November of 2010. Same menu, same recipes, same smiles, and faces new and old! And then we’ll go from there. Shenanigans will enjoy a natural progression of changes from that point, but we believe if you put people who know and love the true persona and institution of Shenanigans, than that evolution will be coming from the right place and flow naturally.”
In a couple of years, there will not be any current students to remember the Shenanigans of old. But with luck, a bit of time, and the continued endeavors of the new owners, Shenanigans will thrive for years to come.
If you would like to donate to the “Save Shenanigans” fund, you can visit their website.