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The Bar that Would Have Been

Rebecca Christensen, Cactus Writer

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Though many universities and colleges across the US can boast a bar, pub, or tavern, CAC cannot. Back in the late 80s, that almost changed. It might come as a surprise to some, but there was a period during which the “College Inn” a bar and grill catering to CAC students, was going to be built near CAC’s Signal Peak Campus.

The College Inn was heavily debated, and many articles reporting on the progress of the establishment were nestled in between articles on alcohol awareness and zero tolerance drinking ads (Though whether or not that says anything about the then Cactus staff is debatable; there were also smatterings of beer ads in those editions). Billy Mitchell, the proprietor looking to build the College Inn, was faced with opposition such as “…two dozen letters of protest. Authors of the letters include two CAC governing board members, the college’s president, faculty members, a doctor and a lawyer” according to Cactus writer Dianne Lehr.

Most of the protesters were concerned with the possibility of serving minors alcohol, as well as enabling alcoholism. One response to that concern was the convenience store just south of CAC already sells alcohol. When a professor protested the College Inn by saying the college provides plenty of activities, students responded with “What is there to do, a dance every three to five months?”

While those protests may sound unreasonable to a modern reader, another eminent concern brought up was the remoteness of CAC from medical aid and law enforcement. At the time, there was only one ambulance servicing the “3500 sq. miles” that CAC is located in. There were no paramedics within reasonable distance, and no police force in the area.

It’s around this point that the copies of the Cactus began to get spotty, and I couldn’t find any more articles talking about the College Inn. Obviously we don’t have a bar a half mile from CAC, but when and why did the Inn fail? I asked around, but wasn’t able to find anyone who knew or remembered. Unfortunately, Mr. Mitchell passed away several years ago.

There was a picture published of the building where the bar was supposed to be built, so I went and looked for that. Surprisingly, the building is now the doctor’s office south of CAC. When I asked the doctor who owns the building if he knew about the bar and grill, he said he didn’t. “…It had been an appliance repair shop, before that it was a fruit market.” Dr. Smith went on to say that a friend of his remembers it being an arcade type building that also sold ice cream.

Unfortunately, without any definitive sources, it’s difficult to say why the College Inn failed. However, whether that is a good or bad thing is a debate for another day.

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