Exeter Deconstructed: Grill

The school we love in detail.

Sarah Pruitt '95
October 30, 2023
Students hanging out in Grill

For more than a century, Grill has been the go-to spot on campus for grabbing a snack between classes, fueling up for late-night study sessions, avoiding dining hall — or all of the above.

The first Academy Grill opened in late 1920 in an old schoolhouse behind Peabody Hall, opposite Hoyt Hall. When that building was torn down in 1941, Grill relocated to the basement of Alumni Hall, now part of the Frederick R. Mayer Art Center. The new space seated 125 and, like the original Grill, resembled a diner, with a counter lined with stools, and tables and chairs.

At “Senior Grill,” a long-running tradition that kicked off in 1957, Exeter’s oldest students headed to Grill on Tuesday and Friday nights to watch television, play cards and smoke — at least until smoking was banned on campus in the late 1980s. By that time, Grill had moved to the basement of the remodeled Lamont Gallery and featured a jukebox, purchased with funds raised by the Student Council.

Grill moved again in 2006, finding its present home in the newly constructed Academy Center, now known as the Elizabeth Phillips Academy Center. In addition to a convenience store stocked with cold drinks, freezer items and snack foods, hot food is available to order, and there’s seating for 85 people.

Students pack the place during midmorning break times, especially right after assembly, says Scott Jeffco, Grill’s manager. Among the top-selling items are the popular Grill cookies, baked in-house and priced at 50 cents apiece. Grill sells around 200 of these oversize chocolate chip treats every schoolday. 

Just remember: Don’t call it the Grill. The article fell out of favor somewhere around the move to the Academy Center. “It’s just Grill,” Jeffco says. “I made the mistake of saying ‘the Grill’ once and a student let me know, ‘You are wrong.’”

This article first appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.