While sitting in front of the Ramskeller’s big-screen television, Ted Brown and John Pohlmann slouch in their chairs, watch the Ryder’s Cup and reflect on the test they recently took in their Nutrition and Wellness class.
With ice-cold Easy Street Wheat beer in his glass and more in his pitcher for refills, Brown turns to his friend Pohlmann and the two begin discussing the test that was more difficult than either anticipated.
“I don’t know what I got,” Brown said. “I am just glad that I am finally done and can relax down here.”
For 36 years, students like Brown and Pohlmann have found relaxation surrounded by peers in the Ramskeller’s open environment.
When the Ramskeller first opened in 1968, the legal drinking age for 3.2 percent alcohol by volume beer was 18. Therefore, the Ramskeller primarily targeted underclassman and served only 3.2 percent beverages. The idea behind the bar was to design an environment that ensured students could have fun, drink a little and be safe.
The Ramskeller is owned by the Lory Student Center, which is different from bars on other college campuses. Private companies usually own most college campus bars, but university spokesman Tom Milligan said bars on campus are not unusual.
“It is my recollection that (bars on college campuses) are pretty common,” Milligan said. “What makes us different is that we have a high caliber of individuals who are constantly looking at programs from around the country to see how we can improve our operations.”
However, 14 universities in surrounding states were surveyed, and only the University of Denver had a bar on its campus. When the Ramskeller first opened its doors, the idea of having bars on college campuses was innovative for its time. Now, more than 30 years later, bars on campus are still few and far between.
In 2003, the Ramskeller was granted a new liquor license that permits it to serve regular 5.0 percent beer, and as a result, beer and food revenue has increased.
Geoffery Valdez, Ramskeller manager and CSU alumnus, has been working at the pub and grub for more than four years. He has enjoyed working with a diverse group of people, the ever-changing day-to-day scene, and the many nights of entertaining big- and small-name bands such as Phish, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tinker’s Punishment.
“I am very proud that Ramskeller and that CSU can provide students with a safe environment where they can relax and have fun,” Valdez said. “We have never had any problems or ever had any citations, and that says a lot.”
Valdez attributes the Ramskeller’s clear record to the training his staff members receive from Training for Intervention Procedures, also known as TIPS. Through TIPS, Ramskeller employees learn how to spot fake identification cards.
“Our employees are very well trained and responsible. They are a positive reflection of what responsible alcohol serving is all about,” Valdez said.
Because the Ramskeller is conscientious about making sure students are carded and the bar has a clean record with the campus, the university has no intention of closing the pub. There was some concern the university would make CSU an alcohol-free campus after it suspended alcohol sales at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. The suspension will be in effect until a recently appointed alcohol task force releases its findings in February.
“Although we felt it was appropriate to suspend beer sales at Hughes Stadium, we have no plans of moving to a dry campus or implementing prohibition,” Milligan said.
However, people aren’t going to find just alcohol and pool tables in the Ramskeller. In fact, many of the students come to lounge around, watch TV and indulge in food such as the pub and grub’s signature chili bowl.
If purchasing food at the Ramskeller is pushing a person’s budget, it’s OK because the Ramskeller does not have any restrictions on bringing in outside food.
“This is a student environment and we try and keep it that way,” Valdez said. “If students want to eat and watch TV in between classes, then that is just fine.”
To make the Ramskeller environment as student-friendly as possible, the restaurant works with the Association for Student Activity Programming and Live Life Late to coordinate events such as pool competitions, concerts, open mic nights and other wacky activities, such as CSU Idol, in which students engage in a modified version of American Idol.
“Students really enjoy these activities, and I do, too,” Valdez said. “It’s great watching students just sit back and enjoy themselves.”
Cory Mankin, a student manager at the Ramskeller and a sophomore construction management major, has been working for the Ramskeller for one year, He enjoys pub and grub’s laid-back social atmosphere.
“It is just a really good social connection where people enjoy good food and good beer while watching some TV, too,” Mankin said.
Mankin’s favorite time to work is during the CSU vs. University of Colorado-Boulder football games because he witnesses students displaying their school spirit by hooting and hollering for their team.
“Even though it gets pretty busy down here around that time, nobody gets out of control,” Mankin said. “It is just an all-around good time.”
Students such as Brown and Polmann are glad to have a place like the Ramskeller where they can relax after a long day of studying and tests and push aside the stresses of their lives – at least temporarily.
“I feel so much better now that it is all over,” Brown said. “It is Friday, and I have the whole evening and weekend to relax.”
During the month of October, the Ramskeller will host many events coordinated by Live Life Late. All events are from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Fri, Oct. 1, Trivia Night
Fri. Oct. 15, Open Mic Night
Fri. Oct. 29, Punk Concert
Sat. Oct. 30, Costume Contest