I’ve been meaning to address this pressing issue for some time.
The Pub, an institution of Madison inebriation since 1948, was recently renovated. I mean really renovated. Except for one of the bar tenders, hardly any part of the interior resembles the former establishment. The picnic tables and benches are gone, replaced instead by posh oval tables with high chairs and plush booths. The colors are co-ordinated (at least according to my more perceptive friends) and the place feels…clean.
The prices are so low that you are forced to believe they are only low for this short promotionary period. $1.25 taps of domestic anytime. There is no competition for that anywhere downtown. With deals that good, other bars are inevitably going to depend on “atmosphere” arguments. When I pointed this out to a bartender at the City, which is practically next door, she bluntly replied that you “can’t compare us to the Pub.” According to her, I should be willing to pay $2.50 for a bud light to play trivia in an underground den. Unfortunately I might continue to do that because I do really like trivia.
And yet, something died a long with the vomit stained tiles that now lay in a nearby dump. The soul of the Pub, defined in recent memory by a vagrant or semi-vagrant clientele, but also encompassing the distant memories of many former students, including my dad, who got his first legal drink there in 1973 (drinking age 18), has ascended to tavern heaven, and will never return. The loud, trendy music that emanates from the jukebox, the hordes of sorority girls grinding on their Greek counterparts…it’s an opportunity opened for some, but perhaps a more valuable one closed to others.