Drawing nearly 500 students, The Bear’s Den — a new pub nestled in Willard Straight Hall’s Ivy Room — kicked off its soft opening with a Super Bowl party Sunday evening. Although it was a dry run for the pub, plenty of liquor was served.
Sunday’s event was one of four this semester intended to introduce the new pub to the student body, Robert Callahan ’14, pub director of the Student Union Board, said. The pub is slated to open for regular hours next fall after it receives a liquor license.
Though it does not yet have the permit, the pub was allowed to serve alcohol at its opening Sunday because Cornell Catering — the group providing food and alcohol for the pub’s preliminary events — has its own liquor license for the four test events, according to Student Assembly President Natalie Raps ’12.
“We were hoping [the licensing process] would go faster but because it didn’t, this is like a compromise,” Raps said.
Students attending the pub’s opening event applauded the atmosphere and said they were looking forward to see the pub become a fixture of Cornell.
“It turned out amazing,” Anisha Chopra ’13, S.A. representative at-large, said. Amir Malik ’15 agreed, saying the pub had a “good atmosphere.”
Other students said they were pleased with the turnout at the event, noting that students across different class years attended.
“I think it’s a good idea, especially if you have younger friends, because I can’t go to bars with them,” James Fairbrother ’12 said.
Students at Sunday’s event also expressed excitement about the full opening of the pub.
“It would be cool to have a beer once and a while after class,” Syed Hyat grad said. “Where I went to undergrad, we had a cool on-campus bar where kids had drinks after class; if this place is like that, it would be a success.”
The preliminary events, such as Sunday’s Super Bowl party will help work out any problems in the pub’s operatory, according to Callahan.
“Administrators will be there to make sure any issues with the pub are worked out,” he said. “We’ll learn how to deal with things like crowd control issues.”
Raps said that once the pub is fully opened it will serve many items currently offered by Cornell Catering, as well as a “bar menu” including beer, wings, fries and sangria.
Students will be able to purchase these items using their Big Red Bucks and Cornell Card, she said.
“Cornell Catering has its own policies and guidelines, so the difference will be in the bartending,” Callahan said.
In addition, the pub will be run as a collaboration between members of Cornell Dining, which will provide food and beverages, and students, who will plan programming, according to Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’67.
Students will also be involved in hiring a pub manager, according to Callahan. Currently, students on the Campus Dining Committee are working with a microbrewery to develop a signature Cornell brew.
Callahan believes that the pub will create an inclusive environment for students that he does not see in other bars, saying, “Certain places in Collegetown cater to [only] one group.”
Ultimately, student leaders hope that the pub will help change the campus’ attitude toward alcohol.
“We believe that prohibition doesn’t work,” Raps said. “We want to teach students or anyone that they don’t have to be around an alcohol situation where someone is throwing up in the upstairs bathroom.”
Hubbell echoed Raps’ sentiments, saying, “We want to be able to model and demonstrate safe and responsible consumption of alcohol.”