Unlike the rest of LSU’s campus dining opportunities, such as fast food in the Student Union or the cafeteria-style of the two dining halls, the newest addition to LSU’s culinary landscape is a full-service restaurant experience.
The Lounge offers dining fare to LSU students and faculty, as well as the Baton Rouge public, with a classy flair, and it’s located at the heart of LSU’s campus in the preexisting LSU Club at Union Square next to the Barnes and Noble.
“We want people in the Baton Rouge community to be able to enjoy campus in a different way that doesn’t involve a sporting event,” says LSU Dining Special Events Coordinator Sarah Wronkoski. “This is a way to be on campus and enjoy LSU that’s new and different.”
Originally built in 1939, the LSU Faculty Club that houses the Lounge was first an on-campus hotel and restaurant exclusively for faculty club members and their families. Amenities like billiard rooms, a television room and faculty dormitories give way to the modern occupant of the space: the Lounge’s sister property, the Club, which exists as a premium buffet in the former hotel’s dining room. “There are some groups of students that come with their parents—who used to be students themselves—and they show them this hidden gem of LSU’s campus,” Neva Ferguson, manager of the Club, says.
The idea to transform half of the Faculty Club into a modern dining experience came in May 2021, when the pandemic allowed the university to “reimagine the space” during the Club’s closure, Wronkoski says. The restaurant opened last fall.
While the new restaurant is a part of the same LSU Dining ecosystem as the McDonald’s and Panda Express in the Student Union, Wronkoski says the Lounge is attempting to be a subtle and more refined option for campus dining. With its wood-paneled walls and modern, minimal décor with white marble countertops melding with the classic aesthetic of jazz and big band music and the original wooden doors’ patterns, the Lounge is the farthest thing from the cafeteria lines just up the road.
The divergence from traditional college dining continues in the menu. While students can pay with their student ID with Paw Points or Tigercash, the university’s meal plans, the Lounge offers a more refined menu. It features local favorites like shrimp and debris po-boys and tapas offerings like bacon-wrapped dates and pork belly bao.
“We do all of our po-boys on Leidenheimer bread. Anyone from Louisiana who is as snooty about their po-boys as me knows that’s the best one,” she says. “And we already have regulars coming back every day to get our burgers.”
The Lounge is also one of two places on LSU’s campus where alcohol is served, the other being Tiger Stadium. The drink menu adds an LSU twist to classics like the Old Fashioned and the Vesper, with the classic cocktails called the “Core Curriculum” and the specialty cocktails referred to as the “Electives.” Drink names like Tigerbait, Early Registration and Hold that Tiger remind diners that they are at a bar on LSU’s campus.
“I created the cocktail menu to make it a fun nod to being a fun nod to being a bar and restaurant on campus. All of the cocktails have some fun playing on LSU,” Wronkoski says. “Even the Vesper, a traditional cocktail, means the Vesper bells of the clock tower,”
As in the days of yore, the Club and the Lounge still host special events on weekends, and together they provide a beautiful venue for weddings, conferences and private dinners. “That’s what’s great about the space; during the week it’s open to students, faculty and staff to come in and enjoy a good meal. And on the weekends, we come and throw parties,” says Director of Catering at LSU Dining Reed Dowie.
At the end of the day, LSU Dining wanted to bring something inspired by the past into the future for everyone, not just the students and faculty.
“Someone that lives in Baton Rouge as an LSU fan isn’t going to pop into a dining hall,” Wronkoski says. “This is a place where they can enjoy LSU and have it be a bit unexpected.”
The Lounge is at 2 Raphael Semmes Road. It is open weekdays for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Lounge serves happy hour Wednesday through Friday, 4-7 p.m.