January 27, 2004

After closing for nearly six weeks, cleaner, renovated Pub turns on taps

The taps are flowing and the grill is sizzling this week at the Pub, which re-opened Friday after a nearly six-week hiatus taken to make physical improvements and bring the establishment up to code.

In a sweep of inspections that closed many Hyde Park eateries during the late fall months, the Chicago Department of Public Health closed the Pub, located in the basement of Ida Noyes Hall, citing various structural violations involving several walls and doors.

Students returned from winter break to find a small white sign attached to the western entrance of the Ida Noyes main foyer saying the Pub would open during mid-January. A new sign posted on Friday afternoon has been changed to read: "The Pub is now OPEN."

Staff members said they were unaware that the bar and grill would open, until they were notified on Friday and asked to report for work that evening.

Matt Calhoun, the bartender who worked the first shift, said after a typically slow start early in the night that a reasonably large group of people came to enjoy themselves. He added that the Pub was also noticeably busy on Saturday night as well.

"We've been getting a lot of calls from people asking if we're open or not, especially on Friday and Saturday nights," Calhoun said. "It really shows that people are interested."

Victor Vogt, manager of the Pub, said all the necessary repairs have been made to satisfy the city inspectors. Many of the improvements were planned before the inspection, including fixing several cracks in the wall and installing "door sweeps" to reduce the space between the door and the floor. The Pub also received an extensive cleaning over the time it was closed, according to Vogt.

The renovation gave staff members a chance to reorganize much of the storage space where drinks and food are kept in the back. Kegs and cases of beer are now raised off the ground, for example, to facilitate easier access and mobility, according to Erik Schneider, another bartender at the Pub.

While the Pub management does not have any special events planned to celebrate their re-opening, the staff was hopeful that a regular schedule would entice students to return: Wing Night Mondays, Trivia Tuesdays, and $5 six packs on Thursdays.

"It's affected our business in a way because we were closed for a short period, but it's hard to say," Vogt said. "The Woodlawn [Tap] would be in a better position to answer that question."

As this article went to press, a line of students stood in a line outside the Pub waiting for the door attendant to check their identification. Most said that, while excited the Pub was re-opened, its closing did not completely halt their social agenda.

Several students expressed frustration over the fact that the Pub was slated to re-open in "mid-January," but did not actually begin service until January 23rd.

Still, the Pub, the closest watering hole to campus and a storied University establishment, inspires a loyalty in many who recall their neighborhood bars from home. "My local bar in New York is ripe with cockroaches, so it takes more than a few health violations to keep me away," said Noah Milestone, a fourth-year in the College.

The general sentiment among students and staff was a great relief and appreciation for the Pub's return. Said Schneider, "You only know what you have when you miss it."