By Sarah Lehr
When it’s Cove O’ Clock, the Durbin family is close at hand. A Knox County native, Andy Durbin works alongside his mother, Marilyn, to manage the late-night establishment known officially as the Gambier Grill and colloquially as the Cove. He chatted with the Collegian about boozy alumni, rowdy students and the mass appeal of mac and cheese wedges.
What do you like most about managing the Gambier Grill?
There are interesting people. All of the alumni are pretty interesting when they come back and talk about their jobs. The alumni, I think, drink more than the students. Somehow [the Grill] is kind of etched into their memories of their college careers, and I think they want to revisit that. Probably about three or four times a month people come in here for their 21st birthdays. I think people have a lot of fun here.
Do you have any crazy stories?
Last year, it seemed like there was a lot of vandalism. We seemed to have problems with people wanting to take things from the wall or break things, like the bathroom sink. This year, it’s calmed down. It just gets real stressful, especially on the weekends with dealing with everybody and making sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to. Sometimes the door guy has trouble with people trying to come in with fake IDs.
What’s your least favorite drink to make?
Sometimes students ask for something that I really don’t know how to make. Then you have to ask them what’s in it ﾗ it’s a little awkward.
What are the most popular orders?
Food-wise, definitely the mac and cheese wedges. It used to be mozzarella sticks. We are getting a lot of orders for chicken fingers this year. We seem to be moving towards a more food-based business, with more deliveries in general. I think it might be a societal trend; people are more willing to invest in food, a necessity, rather than alcohol, a non-necessity.
Drink-wise, it seems that students go through a lot of tequila shots.
What are your favorite things to eat here?
I like the burgers. I like the wings.
What do you do in your free time?
I invest in real estate ﾗ single-family houses in Knox County. That’s what I’ve always done since high school. It is hard [to balance] that work with this work ﾗ it can weigh on you, especially the late hours. At the Grill, you’re managing people, which for me, can be a challenge.
What’s it like to work with your mom?
It can be challenging at times, though it usually goes smoothly. Sometimes I bring up an idea for an event and she doesn’t think we should do it. In the end, it’s nice to be with family.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
[starbox id=”Sarah Lehr”]