After almost five months, students of St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick have their bar back. The Cellar Pub & Grill, found in the basement of the Student Union Building, is the campus’ watering hole — complete with $10 burgers and $15 pitchers of beer.
Emma Fortunato, a third-year student at UNB, was one of many who took a trip to The Cellar during its opening week.
“Me and my roommates waited in line for two hours,” said Fortunato.
She wanted to give up and go to another bar, but her roommates refused, saying they wanted to be at The Cellar. Despite living off-campus last year, Fortunato and her roommates usually ended up at The Cellar once a week.
Fortunato said everyone was having the spinach dip and the Grand Theft Bus, a fluorescent teal-coloured cocktail.
“The place was packed, and it was all people we know from school,” said Fortunato. “Everybody was just really excited to be back.”
Though currently running at half-capacity, owner Patrick Hanson wrote in an email they intend to be operating at almost normal levels this year.
He said the pandemic shed light on the importance of social interaction and mental health. Hanson said the role of The Cellar is often underestimated.
“Friendships that last a lifetime are created here. Many relationships are created here, important discussions that will shape the future of students careers happen here,” wrote Hanson. “The value that The Cellar brings to the community is immeasurable.”
For fourth-year STU student Grace Schnyder, The Cellar has shifted from party-place to workplace. She started waitressing at the bar at the beginning of this semester.
Schnyder said knowing that the clientele is mostly students is reassuring after the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick. According to university websites, STU students have until Oct. 15 to be double-vaccinated and UNB is rapid testing anyone who is not fully vaccinated every three days.
As a regular customer, Fortunato said she also feels safe because of the mask requirement. She and her friends aren’t worried because they are vaccinated.
The Cellar is famous for its daily specials like Taco Tuesday, Wing Wednesday and Fatty Fatty Fridays.
Schnyder said that on Sept. 9, the day The Cellar ran their first specials of the academic year, there was a line out the door. She said the moment was overwhelming, but the waitstaff were supportive and she was happy to see all the students excited to be back.
For Schnyder, The Cellar creates a sense of community between UNB and STU students because it’s something they have in common.
“Especially with the split between the two schools, it’s nice to have that thing we all have in common,” said Schnyder. “No matter what program you’re in, we all have The Cellar.”