‘The Rat’ makes a comeback


Asha Blake

The Rathskeller is located in the basement of the Student Center.

Grace Clarke, Reporter

The Rathskeller Stage, once a fun music venue in Kent State’s Student Center for years, is finally making a comeback.

The Rathskeller stage, also known as “The Rat” to older alumni, was an iconic hangout spot in the basement of the Student Center for students to be with friends and listen to live music.

Local bands, student bands and comedy shows were all welcome on the stage, even well-known special guests like Richard Reiser, known for his appearances on “Saturday Night Live.”

The Rat was the place to be, with students gathering at night and getting a drink or two (yes, alcoholic), according to Kent State Alumnus Stephanie Smith, now a professor at the University. The space was an alternative to going downtown, which can be hard for students without cars.

Pizza, jukeboxes and a packed crowd is how Kent State Alumnus Brigid Norton remembers it in 1978. “We’d take the campus loop to the student center; it was a lot safer than going downtown. We’d be there all night,” Norton said.

Throughout the late ‘70s, ‘80s and even ‘90s, The Rat was a popular hangout but slowly declined in popularity in the early 2000s. In 2022, current students attending Kent State may have never heard of the Rathskeller.

“What does that mean? Is that a place?” said Natalie Waggoner, a junior visual communication design major. Like Waggoner, many students on campus don’t know what the Rathskeller is. Ben Davis, director of the Kent Student Center, wants this to change.

Renovating what was more recently called The Patio, Davis’ new goal is to promote the Rathskeller 2.0 and a new Mediterranean restaurant sharing the space, Tahini. The basement of the student center has taken on many different roles with the space over the years, including a former Quaker Steak and Lube where Tahini and Rathskeller Stage now reside.

Although the Rathskeller has remained over the years, it has been forgotten and not promoted to the public. The new and improved space currently seats 187 and includes arcade games, a pool table, TVs mounted on the walls and of course the stage.

“We wanted this space to have a bar-like atmosphere, where students can come and have a good time,” Davis said. They are also currently in talks about reinstating alcohol for students of legal age to enjoy a drink at the Rathskeller as students have in the past.

Student organizations are encouraged to reserve the new space to hold events such as karaoke nights, which are being held weekly starting September 19 hosted by the Flash Activities Board. Karaoke isn’t the only event being planned at the Rathskeller stage, though. Davis wants it to be a space where students express themselves, whether it’s through music or art. Game nights are also in the works, specifically trivia nights.

“I am really excited for this. I’m not a fan of going all the way downtown to just hang with my friends, so I hope this is a fun, and closer alternative,” sophomore geography major Kathrine Musselman said.

The Rathskeller Stage and Tahini Mediterranean Cuisine are now open for students in the basement of the student center.

Grace Clarke is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Senior Kaleb Strong focuses on the billiard ball before striking it. Strong played with Alex Thomas, another student, during this game. (Asha Blake)