Diner Diaries: Behind the Scenes at JP’s

Sacred Heart University’s JP’s Diner has been a beacon of community and culinary delight since its establishment in 2017.

JP’s is the first on-campus diner in New England, paying homage to the university’s esteemed President John J. Petillo, a native New Jerseyan, with a 50s-style aesthetic.

“It’s a great community, kids know servers by name, and my co-workers as well. When I clock into work, people are happy to see me, and while I work, I get to meet new people and make new friends. I’ve met and continue to meet new people every day, and it’s a good community of people who care about me,” said Teddy Minichini, who is part of the wait staff at JP’s Diner.

He joined JP’s wait staff at the beginning of this semester and has found a community that has welcomed him since he started working.

Since its opening, JP’s has welcomed students, both to dine in and also to work as a work-study opportunity. Students are able to pay with their dining dollars which makes JP’s a very popular spot. The diner is also open to the public and features about 25 to 30 diner menu classics.

Along with the student staff at JP’s, it is overlooked by a number of experienced managers, chefs, and directors who help make it run smoothly.

Chef manager, Jason Joyce said, “I started my executive chef job at Sacred Heart only one week ago and could not be happier with my staff, customers, and the diner itself. My role is to make our students and staff be as happy, satisfied, and relaxed as possible while enjoying a nice meal or snack with their friends and colleagues.”

Much time, preparation, and thought goes into creating quality meals and menus for SHU students. There are a lot of Back-of-House (BOH) tasks for JP’s, including managing inventories, creating menus, ordering foods/ingredients, administrative work, and more, that students don’t see when they go to sit down for a meal.

Joyce has taken on a large portion of the BOH tasks since recently joining the JP’s staff. His main goal in his role is the satisfaction of students and staff.

With a focus on BOH tasks, JP’s team invests considerable time and effort to ensure a seamless dining experience for the SHU community.

“The role requires me to order all the food products and to direct my staff to produce quality meal items and have fun doing so as making daily specials,” Joyce said.

JP’s Diner has become a social hub, offering students a place to relax, savor delicious meals, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends, making it a cherished and enduring part of the SHU experience.

Freshman Jessica Brown, who has been a student at SHU for only three months, has declared JP’s Diner her favorite spot on campus. Brown praised the welcoming atmosphere, convenient use of dining dollars, and consistently excellent service.

“It has great food and is super convenient for students as we can use our dining dollars to pay,” said Brown. “I’m always greeted with a smile right when I walk in the door, and the service is always great no matter the day; it’s why my friends and I always find ourselves going back.”

Geraldine Paglia contributed to this article.

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