Room in the Subway tunnel? Bring back the Rat

With the recent talk that Subway might soon be moving to the Hilltop Café, we can’t help but wonder what might become of the Umrathskeller (German for Umrath basement). The student body is not without its opinions. Some have asked for another sandwich franchise to compete with Subway’s limited menu. Some have asked that Hilltop be reinstalled. But we can’t think of a better idea than the return of an institution most of us came here too late to enjoy: The Rat.

Opened in 1976, the Rat was once a popular bar and grill, then the campus’ only drinking spot. Even as late as 2001 Student Life reported that attendance to nights at the Rat often exceeded 800 for a 310 person capacity space. Theme parties, televised sporting events, back to school nights and an actual bar made the Rat the destination for anyone unable to afford a taxi to the landing or unwilling to make the schlep out to the Loop. The Rat enjoyed 26 years of success only to be closed in 2002, plagued by waning student interest and a rash of underage drinking incidents. Its death forced the frats to pick up the slack. We perceive that many within the Wash. U. community would appreciate some other public places to drink on campus with their friends. We think the Rat’s time has come again.

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Much has changed since 2002. Most who have memories of the Rat, good or bad, have graduated. If the University or Bon Appétit brought it back, it could apply the lessons it learned from the Rat’s previous failure to a brand new population.

More importantly, the administration has recently relaxed its sanctions of on- campus drinking. Wine and beer are readily available at all hours at Ibby’s, the Duc’s in-house restaurant. If the administration trusts us in this setting, is a campus bar such a stretch?

There are reasons, beyond the increased proximity to booze, to consider brining back the Rat. Since the closing of the Mallinckrodt Food Court, new food options on this campus have prompted long lines at Holmes Lounge and the University’s other popular eateries. With Hilltop’s closure this situation will only get worse. The Rat was a popular lunch location, and it would undoubtedly be again. Its centrality to the campus is another asset. We wager the school would see increased attendance at Graham Chapel and Edison Theater events. Students might also follow our sports more if they had a bar in which to watch them.

Many of our peer institutions allow on-campus bars, some of them to service student populations not known for sobriety. If Rice students can handle a bar, who says Wash. U. students can’t?

  • Carol

    It would be amazing if the Rat were brought back. My alumni relatives are always asking me if it’s still around and speaking of it fondly.

  • Tara

    It would be so awesome to have the Rat back. Having the trifecta of the Rat, Ibby’s, and the Gargoyle all right there would create a sweet on-campus spot. A lot of campuses have on-campus bars, and it honestly makes no sense for WashU not to, since we have a wet campus as it is. Plus, it would create a safer place for of-age students to drink, since lacking an on-campus venue like the Rat just pushes student drinking off-campus, where underage students are almost guaranteed to partake.

    Anyway, WashU (its campus, in particular) really needs something for that cool factor.

  • DenChen

    “Even as late as 2001 Student Life reported that attendance to nights at the Rat often exceeded 800 for a 310 person capacity space.”

    YET:

    “…only to be closed in 2002, plagued by waning student interest…”

    In one year, waning student interest is a main cause for closure?
    StudLife, for this logic to hold, you need to provide:
    1) reasons for waning student interest in one year
    2) the “bad memories” that students had of it, that the school can learn from? this article only speaks of positive aspects of the Rat

    Also, the concluding remark: “Many of our peer institutions allow on-campus bars, some of them to service student populations not known for sobriety. If Rice students can handle a bar, who says Wash. U. students can’t?”

    Do you think it’s possible that the reason why some schools such as Rice are not known for sobriety is BECAUSE they have an on-campus bar? Rumors and anecdotes about campus about how “wet” Wash U’s campus used to be… which coincidentially is during the same period when the Rat was operational. Perhaps by having an on-campus bar Wash U will, again, be known not for sobriety?

  • Scott L.

    The loss of the Rat was a true loss to the campus. The food wasn’t great, the decor was dark and dank, and the TV was generally always on the soaps during lunch, but that’s what made it a great place to go and hang out. It’d be great if the students would get behind this idea.