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Petition Started to Save the Rathskeller and Spats

by and on December 05, 2017 9:19 AM

By Mikey Mandarino and Geoff Rushton

Nearly 5,000 people so far have signed an online petition started Monday night to save The All-American Rathskeller and Spats Cafe after it was announced the two longtime State College establishments will close.

Owners Duke and Monica Gastiger said that they were informed by the new owners of the building at the corner of Pugh Street and College Avenue that their lease would not be renewed and the space had been leased to a new tenant. The property was purchased in June by Chuck and Neil Herlocher, who said in a statement that they had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a new lease with the Gastigers and later offers to purchase the businesses were turned down.

The petition was started by State College native and Penn State alumnus Dave Cole.

“The Skeller is a lot of things to me. It’s a place where I’ve gone out numerous times as a college fool, of course, but it was also a spot I would meet my parents for lunch (who live in town) every few weeks,” Cole said. “Of course the food was some of the best in State College, but I truly mean this when I say that the staff, especially during the lunch shift was always super chill, friendly, and attentive. Yeah, we liked going there, but it’s an even bigger loss that I can’t comprehend for the folks who worked there and now will have to figure out what’s next for them.”

The petition on started out with a goal of 1,500 signatures. By Monday morning it had 4,358.

"I didn't really know what to expect when I launched this. Frankly, I saw the news pop up on Twitter and it hit me right in the gut," Cole said. "State College is changing, and that's not necessarily bad, but this place is so special to me and thousands of other people who've called State College their home."

"I felt that we needed to bring folks together and rally around this love of an institution. I just wrote something up quickly, and sent it out on Twitter. I hoped it would take off, but had no idea it would be this fast."

The Herlochers said in a statement on Monday that they and the new tenant, which has not been identified are "committed to maintaining the character of the location," and that the new operators would carry on "the proud tradition of good times and good friends meeting in this downtown State College landmark."

After the news was announced, a #SavetheSkeller campaign quickly emerged on Twitter and the Herlocher's Dipping Mustard Facebook page was flooded with negative comments.

Signers of the petition left heartfelt comments about the legendary local watering hole, like “The Skeller is an iconic part of PSU and needs to be saved!” and “How can anyone even think of closing such an iconic place. What happened to tradition?”

Closing dates for the Skeller and Spats have not been announced. The Gastigers said that some employees would be offered positions at their new establishment, RE Farm Cafe at Windswept, which is expected to open in Patton Township in 2018. The Herlochers said the new tenant is interested in retaining staff at the two businesses.

The Skeller has been in business since 1933, opening days after Prohibition ended. It's the longest continually operating bar in Pennsylvania and the Gastigers are the fourth owners, having taken over in 1985. Spats opened in 1987.

“The Skeller is a historic institution that needs no introduction and has been serving State College residents and Penn State students for 84 years,” the petition’s description reads. “Sign on to show your support for the Skeller and Spats and send a message to the Herlocher family. #SaveTheSkeller We. Must. Stop. This.”

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

Mikey Mandarino is a staff writer for Onward State.
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