SMC Students Once Cooled Down at "The Pub"

Photos of "The Pub" in a Saint Mary's yearbook show students kicking back at the Mission Road Inn. “Chug, chug, chug!” is a general chant heard at college parties. But a quarter century ago, beer wasn’t just chugged in the dorms but in a popular on-campus pub.

Until its closure in the early 1990s, the Mission Road Inn, known to most as “The Pub,” served as a place of friendship, romance, relaxation, and of course, shenanigans.

“If you wanted to have fun, you had to make it,” says Brother Raphael Patton ’63. Celebrating his 50th class reunion next year, Brother Raphael has seen many changes at Saint Mary's College.

It was the mid-1980s when the administration decided it needed an on-campus space for students to hang out – somewhere closer than the popular watering holes known as “The Barn” in Moraga and the Roundup Saloon in Lafayette. With a change in the alcohol policy and to keep students safe, the dean of students  approved the construction of a pub on campus.

On Oct. 29, 1985, the Mission Road Inn was officially open for business. The facility, which had cost $74,000, was accessible from stairs inside Delphine Lounge. The space created a relaxed atmosphere for students, somewhere they could go after a tough day or a long night of work. Walking down the stairs, students would notice that the pub was scattered with quirky furniture – beer signs lining the wall, tables engraved with names and class years of previous patrons, and even a piano for group sing-a-longs. Come on the right day, and students could enjoy $1 drinks. And if they ever got hungry, the pub was also home to a pizza oven, which made it easy to enjoy some food with a glass of beer.

However, the best part of the pub was the fact that students were in charge. Students were responsible for serving drinks, making the food, and acting as security. David Ripple ’89 was a friend of a former manager of the Mission Road Inn. “Student managers would have the keys, so sometimes we would go just to hang out,” Ripple says. Inside the pub, students would gather to watch sports games, and sometimes Ripple and his friends would come after-hours to watch.

Television wasn’t the only form of entertainment in the pub – there was live music as well. Bands like “London Down” and “Never Say Never” would rock out for large crowds on Thursdays and Fridays. Since money was tight for many students, Ripple says they kept the cost down. “We were always looking for free entertainment. We would give them [the performers] free beer and pizza for the whole night if they played.”

In 1989, the alcohol policy changed, banning anyone under 21 from entering the pub. With the added stress of bar fights and an increase in on-campus incidents, the pub closed shortly afterward. The Delphine Lounge was turned into “Club Delphine,” a dance club for students, and now operates as the space for the Intercultural Center. The pub was closed down and turned into additional room for the school bookstore.

Today, the legacy of the Mission Road Inn lives on.  Though the chants of “chug, chug, chug,” are gone from the space, students still buzz around campus about the long-lost pub.

By Jazo Moises '13