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Campus News

A Toast to the Past: A Look into Wilson’s Legendary Pub

by Tim Burkhardt

There have been murmurs around campus concerning a potential pub here at Warren Wilson. While the proposal is being worked out between members of faculty and caucus, the student body can only wait and wonder if a pub will actually come of it and, if it does, what it will be like. To get an idea, we could look back 30 years into Warren Wilson history, when of-age students had a place on campus to legally purchase and drink beer.

Warren Wilson has not sold alcohol since the early 80’s, but in years past the school used to have a snack shop which provided beer on tap. It existed in the basement of Gladfelter before the 1998 expansion made room for what is now Cowpie Cafe. Aramark was the corporation that ran the cafeteria, and they held the alcohol license. Beer was served in the evenings between 7 and 9 pm. Before the year 1984 the drinking age was 18, so almost everyone on campus could legally purchase beer. Students and professors were able to build rapport with each other in a casual setting, meeting to discuss academic matters over drinks and greasy food.

Phil Hanbach, a contract carpenter for Warren Wilson, was a student here in the 1980’s. He recalled the snack shop with a fond and nostalgic smile on his face. “[The snack shop] kept kegs in the back. They had a grill and you could order hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and sandwiches,” said Hanbach. “It wasn’t part of the meal plan, you had to pay for it, but you could get food all hours of the day.”

With the fate of the potential pub in the balance, the student body and faculty impatiently await the decision. To be sure, it is an issue of no small debate. Times have changed over the last 30 years. Warren Wilson Road has been improved and there is a bus system that was not an option in the past. More importantly, the legal drinking age in North Carolina is now 21, which reduces the percentage of students who can legally patronize the pub. On the other side of the issue, a pub on campus would mean that students who are of age to buy beer would have a safe place to go and drink within walking distance. Also, imagine satisfying that hankering for crispy, golden-brown fried potato pieces by taking a short walk across campus instead of that long drive to Cook-Out.

When asked about the wildest thing he ever witnessed in the snack shop during his education here, Phil Hanbach replied, “We were going to set the Guinness Book of World Records for most people in a phone booth. We got 138 people in [the snack shop]! There were people on top of people. We found the smallest students we could find and put them in first. We didn’t make the record but we had a good time!”

Here is hoping that if we get our pub, the memories it will trigger for future alumni are all as positive as Phil Hanbach’s recollections. Cheers!

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