Skeller Replacement Best We Could’ve Hoped For

Doggie’s Rathskeller & Garden opens this afternoon for a “sneak peek” of what’s to come. Though it’s been a bumpy ride (to say the least) in the past eight months since the owners of The All-American Rathskeller announced its closure, the bar’s replacement seems to be the best we could’ve hoped for in the end.

It took just a few minutes for Penn Staters to start using #SaveTheSkeller, rallying behind the historic bar they’d come to call home over the previous 84 years. The Herlochers, who own the building, were chewed up and spit out so quickly that they disabled the reviews function on the Herlocher’s Dipping Mustard Facebook page. Call Penn Staters what you want, but don’t ever say we aren’t passionate.

So much of the Penn State experience is grounded in tradition. From the Creamery to the Mifflin Streak, the institutions passed down through generations are the glue that binds us together. The Skeller was no different.

When we asked our readers a few months ago about their best Skeller stories, the best responses shared a common thread. They weren’t just about getting drunk on a random weekend with friends. They were memories of alumni parents showing their newly-minted 21-year-old children the ropes of their favorite State College bar. They were memories of students bonding with their friends’ parents on a football weekend over their shared love of the Skeller. They were then-seemingly-shot hopes of recent alumni cracking open a case of ponies with their children in a couple of decades.

I’ll be the first to admit I was skeptical when the Troskos announced their long-secretive plans to re-open a bar at the location of the Skeller, pledging to preserve its prohibition-era history. Revealing their intentions on the day that would’ve been the Skeller’s final last call certainly belittled the gravitas of that day.

The chaos that ensued in the following weeks didn’t help, as it ultimately took legal action for the former owners to return the iconic booths and tables to the bar. Though they’ve undoubtedly been replaced over the years, these are synonymous with the soul of the Skeller…especially in the hearts of those who’ve carved out their names and messages.

But I’m hopeful for the future of Doggie’s Rathskeller & Garden. Most of all, I’m over the moon that we evaded the opening of yet another chain restaurant downtown. The last thing we need is an Applebee’s, so maybe this is the best we could’ve hoped for, after all.

The new bar at 108 S. Pugh Street will celebrate the history of its location, and in turn, of State College.

If you haven’t stayed in the loop, the new name of the bar pays homage to C.C. “Doggie” Alexander, who purchased the Rathskeller and Gardens in 1934, named it The All-American Rathskeller, and ran it for 35 years. In addition to the original booths and tables, Doggie’s will also feature garden seating, something Alexander introduced early in his ownership. The Troskos have even set up “Back to its roots” flyers throughout the bar to clue visitors in on the history it seeks to represent.

So all’s well that ends well? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. I, for one, am looking forward to drinking a Rolling Rock at the Skeller this fall…and hopefully one day sharing the same experience with the next generation of Penn Staters.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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