Webb’s alters image for new locale

If the owner of the new George Webb's restaurant on the corner of North 16th and West Wells streets wanted to advertise his restaurant as "different from other George Webb's," he could probably get away with it.

The George Webb's at 812 N. Third Street is an example of a usual George Webb's: Smoking is allowed in a portion of the restaurant — many use that area — and a waitress takes and delivers the order.

However, the George Webb's on campus is organized differently. Diners place their orders at a counter, take a number, and in a few minutes an employee comes to the specified table with the food. Unlike the other George Webb's resturants, no smoking is allowed.

Tom Aldridge, the owner of Aldridge Inc., which operates eight George Webb's — including the newest restaurant — said the no smoking policy was instituted to bring in a "cleaner, more healthy" environment to the restaurant. He said smoking was a problem for preparing healthy food.

Also, Aldridge said, smoking encourages sitting for long periods of time, which decreases the number of customers who can come into a restaurant.

The smoking policy is not consistent among other restaurants in the Campus Town area, in part because Marquette, which rents to the restaurants, does not have a set policy on smoking, according to Aldridge. Smoking, however, is allowed at the Union Sports Annex, according to Marilyn Bugenhagen, the director of the Alumni Memorial Union, which operates the Annex.

The residents of Campus Town are allowed to smoke in their rooms, according to Mary Ferwerda, area coordinator for university apartments, but not in stairways or hallways.

The new set-up is a "prototype" Aldridge said he is considering for other restaurants. The set-up was designed specifically for the Marquette community.

"The service model had to change for this environment," Aldridge said. "The old diner model is a dying breed."

He explained that more people could be served faster with the new model.

Diners at the new George Webb's Wednesday said for the most part, they were happy with the set-up of the restaurant.

Chris Phillips, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the restaurant's design was "pretty nice" and a "big improvement" for the property. He said he looked forward to the restaurant being open 24 hours.

Lucas Vebber, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, is a frequent George Webb's visitor.

"It doesn't have the classic George Webb feel, but the food is there," Vebber said. "It's kind of a college spin on the George Webb."

Emily Mullen, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said that she appreciated the no smoking policy.

Aldridge said he hoped to have the restaurant open 24 hours a day within a week. Also, Aldridge said that he was hoping to hire more Marquette students, but is trying to develop a year-round staff, and many Marquette students would not be able to join that staff. However, he said it was "not by design" that only two students have been hired so far.