Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name — just not necessarily the one that mom picked out.
Joe Bonner said that he and the rest of the staff working the counters at the Rathskeller during the late 1980’s and early ’90’s took liberties with some of the regulars.
“We knew their names but also had nicknames for them based on what they ordered,” Bonner said.
That’s exactly the sort of inside baseball you’re not going to pick up from watching “Last Call: A Tribute to The All American Rathskeller, 1933-2018” — but the pictures still pack a wallop of a nostalgic punch as the bar’s most final of final calls approaches on Jan. 27.
Bonner and fellow former employee Jill Goldstein helped put the slideshow together at the behest of Monica Gastiger, who co-owns the Rathskeller and Spats Cafe with husband Duke. Photos were solicited from other members of the Skeller’s extended family and then peppered with some historical background drawn from the bar’s website.
“There’s so much there and I can’t even imagine all the other stories that are out there,” Goldstein said.
There’s so much there and I can’t even imagine all the other stories that are out there.
Last Saturday, a group of about 20 former Rathskeller employees traveled to State College to watch an abridged version of the video. Many of the black and white photos on display came from Robin Rothman, a Penn State alumna who celebrated her 21st birthday by locking down a waitress job at a bar.
Glamorous it was not. Come closing time the floor would be covered in pools of beer and cigarette ash, residue of a fun night on the town that Rothman said sticks to the skin like cement. She had a blast.
“It was a rollicking good time and we were there to help people enjoy themselves and have a good time,” Rothman said.
She could strike up a conversation with just about anyone who walked through the door — two stranded Brits, a visiting troupe of Irish performers and with time, college-aged boys.
“The Skeller was both my job and my social outlet,” Rothman said.
The Rathskeller’s fleet-footed pace and occasionally rowdy crowds facilitated a team mentality that defined what Ellen Braun called the best job she ever had.
Braun worked as a waitress and bartender at the Rathskeller around the same time that Rothman did. Some of the older photos that she was able to contribute to “Last Call” are a result of the ties made during that three-year period.
“When I was hired, the people who had been there for a while had a really strong sense of history,” Braun said.
She has tried to echo that approach over the course of her 25-year career at Chumley’s, another long-time fixture of downtown State College.
“The thing that I got from the Rathskeller is a respect for the past and tradition,” Braun said.