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Legends of Notre Dame to host 2,000 fans on home football game days

| Friday, September 1, 2017

Legends general manager Rich Jacobs has a game day prediction: 2,000.

That is, he expects about 2,000 people to pass through the doors of Legends of Notre Dame this Saturday, a relatively light crowd due to this weekend being Labor Day weekend. Next weekend, for the Georgia football game, he expects about 3,500 guests, not counting the 500 who normally stop in for the game watch and tailgate.

Since 2003, Legends has been providing food and an alternate place to watch football games for fans from all over. Some may remember Legends as the former Senior Bar — a seniors-only, student run but University-backed bar known for good times, but not necessarily its profitability. In 2003, the University reimagined the space as a restaurant and expanded the building to add a nightclub.

Jacobs said visiting Lengends is a trip down memory lane for many alumni. They are usually able to visualize everything when they are told the raised area of seating in the dining room used to be the stage, Jacobs said.

“It puts a context to the memories,” he said.

On an average football Saturday, Legends will serve around 3,000 guests in the sit-down restaurant, Jacobs said. They typically use 25 cases of French fries on game day alone — the same amount they use in an entire week otherwise. The high volume of food needed, along with the fact that most guests want a quicker, less extravagant meal on their way to the game, caused Jacobs and executive chef Josh Maron to streamline the game day menu.

“We’ve got a limited menu that we run for football,” Maron said. “We’ve got some really popular specials and some new and exciting items.”

Some popular items include classic tailgate entrees and all of the burger varieties Legends offers — ranging from a peanut butter burger to a classic cheddar cheeseburger. Additionally, the restaurant will be continuing some of its most popular August specials into September, Maron said.

For fans who come to Notre Dame hoping to experience the famous atmosphere, Jacobs said, Legends is a great place to do so. Visitors can watch the game on one of the 23 flat screen TVs throughout the restaurant or on the 144-inch screen in the club side of the building — where Legends holds an indoor tailgate and game watch fans can attend for $15, Jacobs said.

“We call it the backfield. There will be burgers, brats [and] pulled pork for people that come in right before and just want to grab tailgate-style food but don’t want to sit down,” he said. “We offer local drafts, craft cocktails in the shadow of the stadium — a full menu for people who don’t have the tailgate setup. We always say it’s the best place to watch the game if you don’t have a ticket.”

Fans can also walk to the outdoor area to hear cheers from Notre Dame Stadium roar and watch the jets fly over, Jacobs said.

“You’re not in the stadium but you get to see [the game] in HDTV,” he said. “It’s almost like you’re in the stadium. We’re as close as you can get.”

Last year, Legends introduced a tailgate catering program, through which tailgaters can place orders and have the restaurant prepare their pre-game celebration food.

“Now, not only do we service the guests in the restaurant, we go to the parking lots too,” Jacobs said.

After games, Legends usually hosts a post-game tailgate in the club half of the building, where traditional tailgate food is served. True to their tagline of “always a party, never a cover,” the event is free for anyone, Jacobs said. The restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to midnight on game days, and later for night games.

Over the years, Jacobs has managed restaurants in eight different states and many cities, but said game days at Notre Dame are unlike any he has ever experienced before. He recalled a particularly moving experience with a 90-year-old lifelong Notre Dame fan named Eleanor, whose family surprised her with tickets to her first Notre Dame football game.

“Her reaction on Facebook went viral on the internet. We offered her breakfast at Legends featuring her favorite blueberry pancakes,” Jacobs said. “Reggie Brooks — a Notre Dame football legend — joined us and signed a football for her. Even though the Irish lost that day, her family expressed their gratitude for her priceless experience.”

Jacobs considers it an honor to serve guests in the shadows of the historic Notre Dame Stadium, he said.

“If I may reference a quote from former coach Lou Holtz, ‘Those who have experienced Notre Dame, no explanation is necessary. Those who have not, no explanation is sufficient,’” he said.  “Coach Holtz was referencing the hospitality and truly unique experience that Notre Dame offers to countless numbers of alumni and guests each year.”

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