The heads that have been popping through the door at 108 S. Pugh St. recently are all of a similar type. Graying. Elderly. Using his father as a reference point, owner Tom Trosko estimates that the faces he’s seeing are attached to bodies firmly in their 80s.
It’s a routine that never disappoints. The door will open while Trosko and friends are busy sprucing up the interior. He’ll invite whoever is there to come in and take a closer look around, only to be summarily rebuffed with some variation on the same theme: it looks the same.
"Every day, someone will come by," Trosko said.
The fact that there’s anybody at all out there who cares about what Doggie’s Rathskeller and Garden looks like can be attributed to its former life as the The All-American Rathskeller, which itself was a reincarnation of post-Prohibition hangout called The Rathskeller and Gardens.
There’s history there along with a not unsubstantial dollop of abiding love and affection. Trosko and his wife Kelley knew that when they took over the space in March.
“Everyone’s curious,” Trosko said.
Fortunately in this case it’s a temporary condition. Doggie’s Rathskeller and Garden will open its doors for a four-day preview starting at 2 p.m. on Thursday. A limited menu will include beer, hard seltzer and cider.
After Sunday, the bar will revert to limited weekend hours through the end of the summer. The memorabilia won’t be up on the walls yet, but it should be enough to let folks get a feel for the place, the ways it’s stayed the same — and how it’s changed.
All of the original booths are intact but have been made shorter to show off more of the stonework on the walls. Speaking of walls, there’s no longer one behind the cash register.
From the front door, you can now see directly into the back two rooms, where the Troskos are trying to recruit name bands and national acts to play. Meanwhile the bar has gone from half a rectangle to a full rectangle. Picture the set of “Cheers” and you’ll get the idea.
The outdoor garden space is still a work in progress, but some concept art will be on display over the weekend.
Trosko said that they wanted to maintain a sense of home.
“We’re just trying to showcase the building — showcase the history, basically,” Trosko said.
For updates on the bar's progress, visit www.facebook.com/doggiesrathskeller.