Latest campus social destination: Lyle's
When you are parched for interaction, Lyle's Pub in the basement of the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center is a great venue to whet your community-building palate. This campus gathering space is on the rise as a social destination.
Lyle's opened for business in the spring of 2008, and, with its menu of bottled beer and food, serves a diverse clientele, including students 18 and older, alumni, professors, and administrators. The underground hangout is fast recovering from a deficit in its first semester, largely attributed to start-up costs. According to Pub manager Susan Klumpner '09, the increased profitability mirrors a movement toward the 50/50 food-to-alcohol sales required by the city of Grinnell for the Pub to keep its doors open to under-21s.
By all accounts, Lyle's Pub looks to be seriously vying for permanent inclusion in the social makeup of Grinnell College. Vice-President for Student Affairs Houston Dougharty is a supporter, saying, "My hope is that Lyle's can be yet another place at Grinnell -- like Bob's, the SRC, Harris, hall lounges -- where community can be found, and where folks can come together in an informal and friendly way."
Managers have set out to make this vision a reality, an effort exemplified by Cari Stayer '10, who joined the Pub staff in the fall of 2008. "I've only worked for the Pub for one semester, but in that time we installed new games, a brand new jukebox, added new items to the menu, and established a variety of specials and themed nights, plus being open during finals week also showed students that the Pub can be a great place to do homework," she explains. Nick DePetris '08, thinks that adding the jukebox has been "the best thing the Pub has done since opening -- it really adds a lot to the atmosphere and gets people excited to be there."
More people are finding their way down to Lyle's, too, thanks in part to planned activities such as study breaks, catering, SEPC events, concerts, and a Student Affairs food-only happy hour. Lyle's even held a gathering for the presidential election. "There was a lot of cheering, hugging, and laughing -- it was a terrific moment to share with my fellow Grinnellians," Stayer says.
Professors, many times by student invitation, are also beginning to discover the atmosphere at the Pub. Gregg Whitworth '00 returned to Grinnell this year as a biology professor and participates in a weekly science discussion group at the Pub with several upper-level students. Whitworth explains the Pub's uniqueness by contrasting his own experience as a student; his only pub-like interactions occurred when he once went off-campus to The Depot with classmates and a professor. "For me, [the campus option] was Bob's and there was no alcohol then," he says, "It was more clearly a student space with occasional events, you know, people would stage something [at Bob's] and there really wasn't a space on campus for faculty and students."
The Pub is off to a great start in 2009, and managers show no sign of allowing the current upward trend to be reversed. They strategize from many angles and have plans to purchase more student art, expand the menu, and install devices allowing for basement cell phone reception. This semester, students may even see professors as guest bartenders and a P-Card swiping machine for non-alcoholic items. In any case, Lyle's Pub looks to be securing a permanent place in the social terrain and is an excellent destination for thirsty Grinnellians.