Glancing over the menu at the Rathskeller is a routine part of nearly every student’s life at the University of Miami. But few question why there’s a “Donna’s Garden Burger,” a “Kenny’s Buffalo Chicken Sub,” or the mysteriously titled chicken sandwich, “The Bergman.”
There’s a noticeable mix of names from former employees to esteemed members of the staff to UM landmarks.
“It started with the UM landmarks, then it moved to faculty members who we wanted to honor,” Everett Price, general manager of the Rathskeller, said.
Yet it wasn’t until the invention of the Kitchen Posse Pita that the young employees of the Rat got a chance to namesake their creations. The dish, a pita filled with grilled chicken and the customer’s choice between a number of sauces, was created in-house at the Rat, by an employee who wished to remain anonymous.
“At the time, everyone was using the word ‘posse,’ so it became the Kitchen Posse Pita instead,” Price said.
After the opportunity was left open to employees to create their own foods, more and more names began to appear on the menu.
One of these names was the Mini-McDermott Corn Dogs, named after eight-year employee Mark McDermott.
McDermott, a student to UM from 1996-2003, was the kitchen manager at the Rat when he thought of putting the mini corn dogs on the menu.
“We were getting these little corn-dogs from the Rathskeller Administrative Board (RAB) for football events,” McDermott said as he swung from an orange glider outside the Rat and munched on his own namesake doused in ketchup.
“I thought they were pretty different, so I suggested they be on the menu.” Yet McDermott, standing at 5’5 ½”, insists they were not named after him because of their size.
“They were mini already!” McDermott said.
So how good are the mini corn dogs?
Senior and avid Food Network watcher Kelley Rafferty puts the minis to the test. Closing her eyes, she bites into a McDermott fresh out of the kitchen. Rafferty puts the rumors to rest in one word: “heavenly.”
The employees who are fortunate enough to find their name on the menu are those who contributed to the success of the Rat as a whole.
“We want to give our employees a sense of ownership to the Rat,” Price said.
McDermott, now an employee at the T.G.I. Friday’s across from campus, agrees that the menu items give meaning to those that have come and gone in the past.
“I’m still recognized when I come back here…and sometimes even over at Friday’s!”