GCU students help create Havoc House menu

Photos by Ralph Freso

From the November issue of GCU Magazine

Havoc House was created and named for Grand Canyon University students. It made sense to ask them what to include on the menu.

Brick oven pizza

General manager Craig Jelinek knew there were givens for the new sit-down restaurant adjacent to the GCU Arena lobby after meeting with students his very first day on the job this summer.

Pizza. But not just any ol’ pie. Generation Z seems a tad more culinarily sophisticated than late-night Domino’s in the dorm like their parents. Havoc House pizza will have plenty of veggie and gluten-free options made on a state-of-the-art rotating brick oven that heats to 800 degrees and can cook a pizza in 90 seconds.

Wings. Because students said they’d like a place to watch Saturday and Sunday afternoon football with plenty of screens and, of course, wings.

Eggs. They wanted breakfast all day, and they’ll get it.

Havoc House General Manager Craig Jelinek explains a food item to invited student guest during the food-tasting assessment.

But Jelinek also wanted to refine the menu beyond his entrees, which will include bone-in pork chops, fresh fish and steak. He invited a few dozen student leaders to rate potential menu items in October, after they were first taste-tested at the Shamrock Foods Company test kitchen.

Bubble Waffle

“I feel like it could be sweeter,” sophomore Kendall Straiton said while eating a Bubble Waffle, a Hong Kong-inspired airy version with berry compote and ricotta cheese.

Funny, that’s exactly what sophomore Luke Finnigan said about the delicious Chia Pudding with berry compote, granola and whipped cream.

The table liked the french fry options that were skinnier and saltier, the sweet potato fry options that were “wafflier” and spicier.

But a couple things rated best among all tasters.

The Spicy Shrimp Pasta with a yummy chipotle pesto cream sauce produced a tableshovel faster than any ’80s-era pizza-slice grab among roomies. It finished first among 16 menu items rated by students.

The Chicken Breakfast Sandwich, with cinnamon Texas toast, bacon, peanut butter, chicken, fried egg and other items adjacent to a kitchen sink, finished second most popular, along with the Bubble Waffle.

Chicken Breakfast Sandwich

Tyson Cantrell, student body vice president, loved it, along with the Mac-n-Cheese Burger with its Southwest blanco queso, green chilies and heavenly puff of cavatappi noodles. A chewing silence fell over his conversation with Camden Marasco, the president.

He is stoked for the airy, high-ceiling restaurant, scheduled to open in January.

“It’s a little more relaxing. You can go to a nicer place on campus and have some food and have a waiter,” Marasco said. “That sounds nice.”

Havoc House is set apart as a sit-down, reservation-only eatery on campus that seats roughly 150 inside, 100 on a patio and another 100 for event overflow in the nearby Jerry Colangelo Museum.

For Jelinek, who came to GCU after 18 years in club management, most recently at Orange Tree Golf Resort in Scottsdale, it’s an opportunity to open a restaurant for the second time in his career. The first was in Seward, Nebraska, where GCU President Brian Mueller once was a teacher and coach at Concordia University.

Mac-n-Cheese Burger

Jelinek relishes the chance to work with hospitality students and get feedback on his creations, some inspired from the Midwest, such as the Prairie Sushi.

Sushi rice is topped with bacon instead of fish with a spicy-sweet mixture of Korean barbecue sauce, jalapeño and raspberry. Havocs president Cole Baker didn’t love it; he enjoys sushi with fish too much for the fusion. But he’s happy to have a voice.

“I think it’s awesome they are using a student perspective – to really care about students and what they say and want on campus,” he said. “It’s an honor to have a restaurant named after the Havocs.”

Jelinek said students are typically watching their budgets, so most items will be near the $15 range.

Prairie Sushi

If you want to sit down and have a Philly or club sandwich or a dinner steak, note that the latter’s version with chimichurri was a hit with student tasters.

The quinoa salad? Not so much. The purple mashed potatoes also created a pause because of the visual.

But another appeal for the restaurant, open every day 7 a.m.-midnight, will be seasonal menus associated as much with the University sports teams as the weather.

“It has great variety,” Finnigan said. “And it doesn’t taste like fast food.”

What could be sweeter?

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.



Where: Adjacent to the GCU Arena lobby

Hours: 7 a.m.– midnight daily

Reservations: Required

Amenities: The 3,000-square-foot restaurant will include plenty of big TVs for game viewing, and the 1,500-square-foot patio will mean glorious outdoor dining. The kitchen will feature a state-of-the-art rotating pizza oven.

Another new option nearby: The Quad Kitchen is an outside eatery north of the Arena, featuring barbecue-style plates, sandwiches, tacos, mac and cheese, house salads and more.


Related content:

GCU News: Quad Kitchen opens, and BBQ scent is rich

GCU News: Comfort level of campus keeps expanding


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GCU Magazine

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