Wednesday, March 21, 2007

“Some of these nuns look real cute hefting those big steins of beer…”*

Tucked away in a corner of the bottom floor of the UC Building, the bare, plain room of the Fog 'n Grog, with its yellowish walls and red variations of checkered flooring, does not give a hint of its glory days as "The Place" on campus that students, faculty, staff, Jesuits, and neighbors went to kick back, enjoy a cold beer, and mingle with one another. Opened on July 6, 1973, led by USF and then-food services ARA-Slater (now ARAMARK), it was the first on-sale beer hall on a college campus in California. The campus beer license was approved in May, ending a five year negotiation with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. The campus bar opened its doors as a trial run during summer with the name "Fog 'n Grog”, a winner in a campus contest. It fast became popular among the students attending summer school, faculty members and conference guests- 550 Sisters and Jesuits attending a Symposium on Ignatian Spirituality.

In a San Mateo Times article dated August 7, 1973, John F. Marshall, then USF's vice president for student development said that the campus bar was a great way for students and faculty to get together and converse. "I think the Fog 'n Grog will be an incentive for them to stick around and enjoy some of the extras that go with a good education- meeting more people, getting to know them better, a chance to get in on campus activities," he said. With its dark wood panels, low lighting, and L-shaped bar, not to mention seating for at least 120 people, open hours from 7 to 11 each night, and .30 cent beers, people from the USF community, as well as those outside, greatly took advantage of the space. The university and food services struck gold; according to Fr. Michael Kotlanger, S.J., archivist at Gleeson Library, in its first week the bar had a profit of approximately $2,000. Aside from ample lounging areas, the bar also provided entertainment. It had a dart board, a television, music streaming from KUSF, and musical and dramatic productions. Kotlanger recalls, "We had a great time."

It wasn’t all fun and games; the campus bar’s beer license had strict rules to follow. Only beer could be served, no wine or hard liquor were permitted. No beverages were allowed to leave the premises. Only persons 21 years of age and older could enter the bar. An adult was to remain at the entrance each night and require two IDs from patrons, one with a photo.

Unfortunately, the bar was closed down in the 80s. There was no information in archives about the closing of the bar and the people I spoke with don't recall the exact date or why it closed. Kotlanger mentioned that it was shut down because of the school’s concern about binge drinking among students and the liability issues involved if there were any mishaps. Fr. Vernon Ruland, S.J., said it had something to do with the drug culture of the time overlapping with the drinking culture. Whatever the reason, the next time you find yourself in the Fog ‘n Grog, whether it's for some club meeting or if you just happen to wander in, don’t let the drab fool you. Take a moment to reflect that at our very campus, over 30 years ago, the first campus pub in California was opened and in the very walls you are standing in, people came together to share good beer, good laughs, and good times.
*James W. Kelly Jr., Director at Office of Public Information at USF (1973) – quoted many times in numerous articles on USF’s bar


Michael Vick said...

I definitely don't think it would be a good idea to open up a bar on campus again, but the fact that this space isn't being used for something productive is a real shame. A coffee and juice bar would be nice, provided that it's run by students and doesn't charge Starbuck's rates.

Christina Kho said...

thanks for the comment! i agree, to have another bar would be a bad idea, i think they should make it another lounge area with sofas and tables, a much quieter place for study and reflection than Crossroads and Market Cafe.

Jerry Rogen said...

I met a Junior Nursing Student at the Fog & Grog while I was bartending one afternoon. A couple years later and we married. That was 28 years ago and now our daughter has been accepted to continue the Rogen tradition at USF. It saddens me that she will not be able to party at the Fog & Grog, or enjoy the social life with ZBT. There was live music every Thursday night and the place would be packed. The early 80's was a lot of fun. A safe on campus beer joint should re-open as well a return of the ZBT House.