Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Uproar after owners of longtime Penn State bar Rathskeller announce closure

The owners of The All-American Rathskeller said they would "jump at the chance" to work on a new lease with the building's newest owners.

A decades-old watering hole near Pennsylvania State University is set to close, according to its owners.

Duke and Monica Gastiger, who run the All-American Rathskeller in State College, wrote on social media this week that the tavern, which has been in business since 1933, along with upstairs Spats Cafe and Speakeasy, will soon close. The building's new owners decided not to renew the lease, they wrote.

Neil and Chuck Herlocher purchased the buildings for $6.5 million over the summer, according to the Centre Daily Times. The Gastigers must be out of the building by February, the newspaper reported. A specific closing date hasn't been announced.

"It has been a great honor operating these two iconic establishments and serving this community and its many truly wonderful patrons and friends," Duke Gastiger said in the post, which said more than 60 employees would be put out of work. "We are grateful for the loyalty that people — including our incredible employees — have shown us over the years. We most regret closing with such short notice, but it was unavoidable given the timeline dictated by the new property owners."

Penn Staters quickly voiced their outrage, starting a hahstag "#savetheskeller" as well as an online petition that's amassed nearly 4,900 signatures.

The Herlocher's Dipping Mustard Facebook page garnered hundreds of one-star ratings and calls to boycott the company on Monday, Onward State reported.

In a statement Monday, the company said it was "steadfast in [its] commitment to preserve the historic nature and location of this landmark building."

The post said the Gastigers hadn't had a lease since 2011 and that "attempts to resolve the issue were unsuccessful."

Sharon Herlocher, the company's marketing director, said she couldn't confirm the new tenant but said the building would stay a bar/restaurant with the same "vibe" as the Skeller. The new tenant is interested in retaining staff, she said.

She said the family respected the establishment's significance to the community.

"People are angry, and we understand that they're angry," she said. "We value what's there, and that's why we bought it."

Duke Gastiger said he was in shock when he learned of the decision not to negotiate a new lease.

"If the Herlochers have an epiphany tomorrow and wanted to work on a new lease tomorrow, we'd jump at that chance," he said.