Alumni memories of the Rathskeller

“Some of my favorite memories are: When we saw Notre Dame we had just come back from the beach and the Rat was packed. They were already inside and they weren’t letting us in and we had to flirt with the guy at the door to let us in. Then every time we would see him we would run to the other end. They have a picture of us in the newspaper because we came out cheering at the end of the game. They used to have live bands and throw T-shirts. We would always see Bernie Cozar (former Cane QB) who was always sitting upstairs on the second floor in one of the tables next to the railing after he graduated. The Rat was always the only place where you could listen to music and hang out with friends. Although my husband and I knew each other from high school, we were just friends then. When we started dating, we would date at the Rat. The Rat closing down makes me feel old. It’s like a landmark at the school. Whenever I go there I show my kids my memories at college. It’s the end of an era.”

Annie Hernandez Freire graduated from the University of Miami in 1991.

“I believe I was the first person to order beer at the Rat. I was an undergraduate here at UM and I was shooting a film of the opening of the Rat. I used to shoot film events on campus. The Rat was opening and I wanted to shoot film of the opening of the Rat. That weekend they were having a folk singer perform, David Bromberg. I got there that afternoon before they opened officially. I had about three students with me that were doing lighting and working on the film. While there, they were tapping the kegs. I remember a bunch of us drew straws to see the first one who won and I won. I don’t feel great [about the Rat closing down]. It’s part of tradition, part of the history. But things change, you know, progress. I was a student of the University before we had the Rat and I was here when they built it. It was a great addition on campus and it gave students a place where they could socialize. The students then felt that the Rat was our place. Football games back then used to be on Friday nights, so the students would all convene at the Rat after classes. For football games buses would take us over to the Orange Bowl.”

Mitchell Shapiro is currently a professor, the director of the School of Communication Honors Program and Electronic Media at UM. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami and a Master of Science in 1976.

Stephanie Parra may be contacted at