Campus hangout celebrates 40th birthday

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Some might balk at the thought of turning 40, but not UM’s Rathskeller. Its birthday on Monday will give the restaurant the chance to do what it does best — host UM students and employees for food and fun in the sun.

On Feb. 11, 1973, the Rat opened for business. Fast-forward 40 years and students and others are still enjoying the same atmosphere – gliders, food and friends – that has defined the popular campus hangout throughout its existence.

Rathskeller Advisory Board (RAB) Chair Demi Halmoukos views the anniversary celebration as both a milestone and a transition point in the Rat’s history.

“This is the last birthday and one of the last big events in this location,” Halmoukos said. “The next birthday will be in our new location in the Student Activities Center. This is a way to enjoy and say goodbye to the temporary location and prepare for the new one.”

Students expressed similar sentiments of excitement.

“I’m so excited about the Rat’s birthday and all of the events coming up,” sophomore Maty Beraja said. “Not only do I get to support my friends that promote it on the RAB, but I also get to celebrate the anniversary of my favorite campus hangout.”

According to Halmoukos, RAB works hard to host events. It is in charge of all programming that takes place at the Rat.

“The best reward of our hard work is seeing students enjoying the events that we put on,” she said.

Halmoukos and the other members of the RAB have packed the Rat’s calendar to ensure that February will be no exception.

When the Rat moves to its new and bigger home in the SAC, Halmoukos foresees the return of many events that were popular at the Rat’s former location on the lake. For example, the old Rat used to host “belly busts,” where big-name comedians would come, according to Halmoukos.

“It’s been hard with this current location. It doesn’t have the capability for those larger events,” she said. “In the new location, we can go back to some of the events that people enjoyed before … it is such an amazing building. We want to take advantage of all the new amenities that it has.”

Wherever its location, the most important thing is that the Rat remains a special place for students to go, Halmoukos said.

“They know their friends will be there and they can go and relax after class and get connected after a long week of work,” she said.

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