Everybody Comes to Lyle’s

Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014 9:47 am

Situated in the basement of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Lyle’s Pub is a student-run campus watering hole where students, faculty, and staff can mingle and interact freely outside of class.

The eponymous Lyle — Lyle Bauman — was a dining staff member who recently passed away. He was a fixture at Grinnell, appearing in Titular Head videos, inviting visiting Ultimate teams to his farm, and generally exuding warmth and goodwill. Originally, the pub was going to be called “The Wedge” after the universe’s greatest wingman and popular write-in candidate, Wedge Antilles. A student initiative, like the one that led to the establishment of the pub itself, also established its name.

A school-sanctioned pub might seem on first blush like a place a student wouldn’t visit if there were other options. But there are other options, and Lyle’s is frequently packed. Between the slate-covered bar, the concrete wall covered in chalk scrawlings from floor to ceiling, and the high tables and half booths, Lyle’s doesn’t really fit in with the atmosphere of drinking establishments in rural Iowa. It’s clear it was custom-designed for students.

Although the aesthetic may not fit with the idea of a traditional pub, the atmosphere does. There’s always plenty of food and nonalcoholic beverages to go around and an emphasis on conviviality. Pub Quizzes and PUBTalks are a natural extension of this atmosphere. PUBTalks, which started last semester, are 30-minute lectures by professors about topics that they find interesting, in the vein of TED Talks. Student organizations and academic departments also sponsor pub nights. “Almost every department schedules a pub night each semester,” says Ben Doehr ’15, the pub’s manager.

Doehr oversees all the ordering, inventory, and payroll, and even approves the timecards of the other student employees. As manager, Doehr is very candid about how he sees Lyle’s: “It’s a place for equal opportunity socializing.”

Doehr keeps the pub’s Facebook page and semi-weekly email blast filled with upcoming events. And if you want to hold an event — anything from watching a soccer tournament to reading from Plato’s Symposium — a request sent to pub[at]grinnell[dot]edu will soon see the doors opened and the bar tended. Inside is a wide selection of beers that a number of professors claim is the best in town, a comfortable place to relax with friends, and an atmosphere where students and professors can just talk.