A brightly colored, ornate sign with the Rathskeller’s signature logo welcomed students into a milieu of school spirit on Monday, when the restaurant’s temporary location on the first floor of the University Center unveiled dozens of newly refurbished gliders, a wrap-around bar and 10 high-definition TVs.
Situated inside Sbarro’s former home with views of the UC pool and an outdoor seating area on the UC patio, the new Rat’s changes took it to the 21st century. But because of limited kitchen space, the menu only offers student favorites and does not serve desserts.
Despite its acrylic updates, the Rat remains true to tradition. The former location, which was torn down over the summer in order to make way for the construction of the new Student Activities Center, embodied a much admired collegiate ambiance.
Though many students felt uneasy about its demolition, the relocation received mostly positive acclaim from alumni and students alike.
“I must say, as someone who took time off to enjoy the old Rat’s last day, I fully endorse the temporary Rathskeller. Holy cow,” said alumnus Matthew Bunch in a tweet.
For Student Government (SG) President Brandon Mitchell, the changes are beyond his suppositions.
“I love it. I knew that it was going to be nice, because I saw some of the designs, but it exceeded any of my expectations,” Mitchell said.
The Rat was not the only facility to undergo changes over the summer. Newly painted walls, flooring, lighting and hurricane-resistant windows were all installed into the UC. More renovations are expected to come this fall, including a mural at the entrance of the UC depicting major events in the university’s history, which is set for completion before Homecoming.
Although the changes received generally positive feedback, not all students are satisfied with the “Sbrat,” as some have humorously referred to it.
“It didn’t exceed our expectations but it’s manageable. They should expand for more outdoor seating since it’s half of the original number of gliders they had at the old Rat,” junior Rachel Hyman said.
According to Dan Westbrook, director of the UC, the open area beyond the gliders will give room for the occasional addition of green patio tables, extra seating and a stage for performers.
“I’ve really been looking forward to having the Rathskeller in the building because it’s obviously a source of vibrant life. It’s going to have a lot of activity around the building and I think it’s going be a real plus for the UC,” Westbrook said.
Having never experienced the original Rat, new students are indifferent to changes and are excited to make memories.
“I didn’t really experience the old one that much, but from what I saw in the old one, the environment is really the same in both. The gliders are still in the new one,” freshman Vanessa Michaud said.
Monday’s opening created a buzz and drawn the attention of several students. According to the eatery’s Twitter account, @UM_Rathskeller, one student ordered the first pitcher of beer at 11 a.m. The restaurant was even featured on Thrillist.com, a popular, subscription-based online magazine.
“To me, it gives the UC a whole new level of energy. You walk into the UC and you see tons of people hanging out, having a good time. It will never replace the old Rat, but I think it’s a really awesome place,” Mitchell said.