by HERB GREENBERG
September 15, 1972
The Rathskeller is going to open- two months and 14 days late.
The Charles H. Gautier Hall- the University Rathskeller has been on a rocky road ever since its fight for existence began three-and-a-half years ago.
The cause of the delay is a bar.
“The building originally had only one bar,” Rathskeller manager Joe Pineda said. “It was on the first floor. In order to get the drinks to the second floor, we would have used a dumb-waiter. But this process could become quite slow if there is a large crowd in the building. So, in order to become as efficient as possible, we revised the plans to include a second floor bar. It’s better to have the delay than having someone come in and dislike the service and never return.”
The 8,500 square foot structure, which costs $444,000 is located in the west parking lot of Whitten Student Union.
Considered the only University Rathskeller which is housed in a building for that particular purpose, arguments surrounding the beer hall include battles in the Coral Gables City Commission, financing and what the common name of the building should be.
Manager Pineda said call it the University Rathskeller. Dr. Henry King Stanford said call it the Rathskeller Gautier Hall.
The major opposition to the hall came from UM neighbors who feared giving a beer hall to young people.
One woman, identifying herself only as a Christian, said, “that it will only increase the number of tipsy drivers leaving the UM on neighboring streets.”
Another Gables resident said, “I’m opposed to giving liquor to young people.”
Gables commissioner Rebyl Zain questioned the wisdom of giving over 400 students “a large place to gather with the added advantage of this soothing beverage.”
“We don’t know what may happen after 10 or 12 beers,” Zain said. “Students are on campus to get an education. Their business is not to frolic, but to get ready to go out into the world. There is already the Student Union that students can use to fraternize … and if a student had a bad day? He could stop on his way to class and have a few beers and maybe not even go to classes,” she said.
Stanford is very enthusiastic about the Rathskeller.
“I plan to go there myself and talk with faculty and students,” he said. “I don’t think it will divert students from studying. It will be an important social structure on campus.”
Vice President for Student Affairs William Butler said the Rathskeller will not be just another beer hall but an expansion of the Student Union operations designed for those who don’t drink, as well as those who do. Controversy also exists over the law school getting their own private room within the Rathskeller.
“Why does the law school get a room? I thought that this was a student paid for – student run operation. It doesn’t sound right,” one student said.
The law school bought the room for $33,000.
Tom Rebel, chairman of the Rathskeller Advisory Board said, it will be an informal meeting place for law students and faculty to meet and exchange ideas.
“We let them have it for two reasons. One: Dr. Frederick Lewis, dean of the law school, thinks it will be good for the educational process. Two: We needed the money. In addition to the $33,000 that the law school is paying, each law student will have to buy a membership card,” Rebel said.
William Sheeder, director of student activities, said not all of that $33,000 went to the law school room. Some of that money went to pay for the rest of the building.
The Rathskeller will be the second establishment in Dade County to have wine on tap. But besides beer and wine, there will be soft drinks, hot and cold sandwiches, coffee and pizza. However, the pizza and sandwiches may not be offered all of the time.
“Our one drawback is our small kitchen,” Pineda said. “We have plans for an addition but until then, the kitchen might have to be closed down on nights when large crowds are expected. Beverages will, for the most part, be cheaper than surrounding establishments. We have to be cheaper, since we’re non-profit. Our theory is quality at the lowest price possible.”
Upon entering the Rathskeller, all persons will be stamped with an ultraviolet stamp to designate persons over 21. Underage drinkers will be subject to arrest by UM security officers and may be found guilty of a misdemeanor. They could face 60 days in jail and fined up to $500.
Pineda warns those persons under 21 not to ruin it for the rest of the people who use the Rathskeller.
“I’m sure that the beverage commission will constantly have their eye on us. One slip-up and they could close us down for good,” he said. “The University Rathskeller, which will be open year round, will be a showcase for student talent. It will give them a chance to get public exposure.”
Managers of neighboring beer halls and coffee houses have contradicting views as to how the University’s beer hall/coffee house will hurt them.
“It could go either way,” said Pat Patterson of the Varsity Inn. “But I think it will help. I don’t think people are always going to want to stay on the UM campus. I think they’re going to want to travel. Anyhow, we don’t do most of our business from the University.”
Mike Sachs of Pappy’s Pizza Parlor said, “Sure it’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt everyone in the area, but what can we do about it?”
Herb Greenberg wrote for The Miami Hurricane in 1972.