The Rat celebrates its grand reopening after a year of strict COVID-19 regulations

Although the Rathskeller has been serving students since the University of Miami opened its doors for the fall semester, the iconic campus landmark known for quality food, beverage and atmosphere formally kicked off the new academic year with a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

During the all-day event, employees at “The Rat” offered tired students a break from class with an activity dubbed “Stuff a Plush.” Attendees stuffed fluffed animals, such as turtles, sloths and more, taking some students back to their adolescent adventures to Build-A-Bear.

“There’s always great people to hang out with, and the sloth animals they gave were adorable, and I’m having a great time here, as usual,” said Bao Duong, a senior majoring in neuroscience.

Two eager students mistake their stuffed animals for food at The Rats grand-opening "Stuff a Plush" celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Two eager students mistake their stuffed animals for food at The Rats grand-opening "Stuff a Plush" celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 8. Photo credit: Rahul Kumar

Student Manager Daniel Hoppen, who is studying finance at the graduate school, said students were given $5 vouchers to commemorate the start to a new semester. Duong said she was especially grateful for the efforts of her fellow UM students to keep The Rat up and running.

“The Rat isn’t just an easy social environment, but I also love supporting my peers who make all the food and help set up everything here,” Duong said.

Ishaan Shah, a senior majoring in neuroscience who ate alongside Duong and their peers, said that for him, The Rat goes beyond a place to just get food.

“I’m meeting so many new friends and seeing so many people that I haven’t connected with in the past two years and I’m just loving the whole environment around here,” Shah said.

For many students like Shah, The Rat has been sorely missed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made socializing on-campus difficult for multiple semesters. Students at the celebration Wednesday said they missed the cheap food and fun environment most of all.

“Prices are better than anywhere on campus and the food is better than anywhere else on campus,” Amrutha Chethikattil, a senior biochemistry major, said. “They also have a second floor dining area that no one knows about, so it’s really chill and quiet up there and I like to do work.”

Bao Duong, Ishaan Shah and Amrutha Chethikattil enjoy their food and stuffed plushies at The Rat on Wednesday, Sept. 8. After a year of strict COVID-19 regulations, students anticipate a slow return to normality at the campus institution.
Bao Duong, Ishaan Shah and Amrutha Chethikattil enjoy their food and stuffed plushies at The Rat on Wednesday, Sept. 8. After a year of strict COVID-19 regulations, students anticipate a slow return to normality at the campus institution. Photo credit: Rahul Kumar

Despite The Rat still not serving alcohol, students like Andrea Rivera, a senior studying ecosystem science and policy, said that it is still a major upgrade from previous semesters.

“Even though The Rat hasn’t fully opened yet, I’m really excited to see everything opening back up and The Rat having business and everything being back to normal, in a sense,” Rivera said.

The Rat also allows student organizations to host events, a feature many students said they missed before the grand opening.

“I’m really happy that it’s opening up again because for me, it’s a great place for club events, especially since it just feels like you’re hanging out instead of something formal,” said Ethan Kumar, a sophomore biology major who is the Communications Chair for the Asian American Students Association.

Kumar said he plans to host numerous fundraisers, galas and more at The Rat for the Asian American Students Association in the coming months.

“It felt unsafe before the vaccine and with more restrictions, but now with The Rat opening up the possibilities are endless for us,” Kumar said.