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Save the Skeller: Herlochers Release Open Letter to State College and Penn State Community

by on December 05, 2017 4:46 PM

The Herlocher family on Tuesday afternoon shared an open letter to the State College and Penn State community about the future of the location of The All-American Rathskeller and Spats Cafe, saying the new tenants plan to "continue operating it the way you’ve always known it."

On Monday, Rathskeller and Spats proprietors Duke and Monica Gastiger said they were being forced to close the popular longtime establishments because the Herlochers, who purchased the Foster Building at the corner of Pugh Street and College Avenue in June, had not offered them a new lease and leased the property to a new tenant.

After outcry from local residents and Penn Staters, including an online petition with thousands of signatures and countless comments on social media, the Herlochers responded Monday night saying their attempts to work out lease issues were unsuccessful and offers to buy the businesses were turned down.

On Tuesday, the Herlochers offered more in an open letter, which is in full below.

Save The Skeller: An Open Letter To The Penn State and State College Community

We value the outpouring of emotions from Penn Staters and State College natives surrounding the news about the All-American Rathskeller and Foster Building.

We are eager to address peoples’ concerns about the future. We bought the Foster Building to preserve this downtown landmark. We are NOT tearing it down. We are NOT replacing it with a high rise.

We are a family of Penn Staters and State College natives who live here, work here and are raising our family here. We walk the downtown streets every day and savor the sights, sounds and the unique feel of what makes this the best college town in America.

We, like many of you, believe that certain things should remain.

That is why we acted, to prevent this landmark building from vanishing from the College Avenue landscape. When it became clear that the current operator arrangement would not continue, we carefully considered the next steps.

A national franchise was NOT a consideration.

So what comes next? The Skeller has remained a constant across 84 years and multiple operators and building owners. This is the place where our shared memories live. We all want this to endure as a place that has bound people to one another across generations.

Before the New Year, we will announce the new operators. Rest assured, these Penn Staters share your passion and have great familiarity with the Skeller and its rich history.

Their vision is to continue operating it the way you’ve always known it. Part of that is an inclusive approach. They want all of us engaged on a website and social media sharing memories and ideas ensuring the future will grow directly from the hearts of patrons past and present. Details on that effort will be forthcoming with the announcement of the new operators.

As one of America’s truly unique college bars and locations, this is a community treasure. From the start, we understood the responsibility to honor the tradition. We believe together, we will create a future that reflects the goal of all who want to #SaveTheSkeller.

The Herlocher Family


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