Campus pub part of a dying breed
October 10, 2008 6:39 PM
The Pub, SF State's on-campus bar, looks like a real city bar, its walls adorned with neon beer logos and its aura dark and divey; it is in fact the last of a dying breed, as one of the last remaining venues in the CSU system with permission to sell alcohol to students.
“The Pub is a place with some sense of luxury,” said Ferras Jweinat, a co-owner of the student center venue. “People make assumptions that people come here and just get drunk. It’s a place of friendship and socializing where students can come together and unite, like a safe haven.”
The Pub was opened at the student center in 1995 by Allam El Qadah, who currently owns Café Rosso and Sushigo. The Pub was then taken over by Jweinat’s family nine years ago and the coveted liquor license was transferred to their name. The Pub now serves about 200 students a day.
Although it only pours beer and wine, the Pub’s drink menu has swelled over the years to include 18 beers on draft, several bottled beers and a variety of wine.
“There are so many I can’t even tell you what’s on draft,” said Jweinat, a tall, solid man who is an SF State alumni. “A lot of students want us to serve hard alcohol but it’s never gonna happen. We’re in an educational environment and on state and government property. Beer and wine is just enough in my opinion.”
Because of Jweinat’s caution, the Pub has never had any incidents involving inebriated students that has required discplinary action.
“We have actually been very successful in maintaining an operation where the owner is committed to not serving minors and checking IDs,” said Edina Bajraktarevic, the associate director of business and finance. ”I don't want to jinx us. We have Alcoholic Beverage Control checks done all the time where undercover officers attempt to buy without any ID. [Jweinat has] always done very well. We remain one of the very, very few universities in the CSU system that operates a pub on campus.”
According to Ellen Griffin, University Spokeswoman, the University Police has had six calls regarding students disturbing the peace at the Pub since 2003, but that they have been proactive in adhering to licensing requirements.
Like SF State, Sonoma State University also operates an on-campus Pub, although it is more of a sandwich shop than a bar, according to Neil Markley, the Director of Entrepreneurial Activities at Sonoma State.
“Up here in Sonoma, we are in wine country,” said Markley. “It’s part of our culture to serve wine and beer.”
Although occasionally the Sonoma State pub has to deal with an unruly student or two, Markley emphasizes that incidents happen infrequently.
“We have an incident from time to time, but typically there are other factors involved,” said Markley.
At SF State, Jweinat trains his employees, who are often students themselves, to enforce a zero-tolerance policy.
“If you come in and we see that you’ve had two beers and you’re tipsy, I have the right to cut you off,” said Jweinat.
Jweinat, who describes himself as a very social individual, loves having one-on-one conversations with students.
“I meet a lot of bright people,” he said.”Being here, you gain a lot of friendship and know you’re giving back to the community.”
Nick Christensen, a political science major, and Colin Nelson, a biology major, visit the Pub up to twice a week for its atmosphere and convenience.
"It's a good place to come if you have a three-hour break," said Nelson. "I even study here."
Echoing his friend over cold Anchor Steams, Christensen often comes to the Pub for its open mic nights on Tuesdays.
"I like to grab a beer and laugh my ass off," he said.
The Depot, the entertainment venue operated by the student center, is the Pub’s neighbor, and often provides music for the Pub’s patrons to groove to.
“We rely on it for foot traffic,” said Jweinat. “It definitely draws a crowd.”
As for the Pub’s future, Jweinat envisions it filled with multiple plasma screen TVs featuring ESPN from open till close, acknowledging that beer and sports often go hand in hand.
“We get a lot of sports fans,” he said.
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