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Last Call at the Rat

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    Above, attendees at Last Call at the Rat flash the "U" sign. Below, UM President Donna E. Shalala, center, visits with mascot Sebastian the Ibis and other friends at Last Call at the Rat.

    Even a severe thunderstorm couldn’t deter the crowds from bidding a fond farewell to the Rathskellar. They arrived in droves. Hoots and cheers emitting from the terrace by Lake Osceola could be heard all the way from Stanford Circle.

    By late afternoon on Friday, April 29—the last day—the wait to get inside was over an hour. Gone were the commemorative mugs—and much of the beer selection.

    “That’s all we have left,” explained an extremely sympathetic student barback, pointing to a decimated cooler and two remaining draft pulls.

    A chalkboard at the entrance read: “Here for Last Call? So is everyone else. It’s going to be a while. Be PATIENT.” But even the long lines were filled with people only slightly impatient, happy to watch the festive scene unfolding around them and reminisce about the beloved student pub in the round that’s been serving up grub, grog, and good times on the Coral Gables campus for nearly 40 years.

    Inside the Rat, the air was thick with nostalgia and the smoky aroma of char-grilled burgers and fries. Mounted speakers throbbed with music from various decades, just audible above the din of animated conversation. Revelers deftly balanced plastic cups and pitchers filled with golden and amber-hued liquids as they snaked through the throng to a table of friends, or climbed upstairs for a little more space and a game of air hockey.

    Senior Christine Ira was staffing the outdoor bar with almost unbelievable good cheer. She is a manager at the Rat who started working there her freshman year at UM. “Right after I got my ‘Cane card,” she recalled with a giant smile, “I walked over here to apply.”

    The Rathskellar opened its doors during winter break of 1972 but got its official launch in 1973, back when a hamburger basket cost just $1.40. It is being closed now so that construction may begin at the site on a new Student Activities Center, which will house the Rat version 2.0 come June 2013. In the meantime, the Rat’s staff, its coveted outdoor gliders, and some of its memorabilia will be transported to the Whitten University Center, inside the current Sbarro restaurant. Its temporary home in that location is slated to open August 17.


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