“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
So starts Charles Dickens’ famous novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” but this sentiment can also be applied to any night spent at Grille 86, the perhaps equally famous (or dare I say infamous) sports bar known to all University of Connecticut students.
Located in Storrs Center, Grille 86 opened its doors in 2017 only to shut them two years later (not even a full two years, counting the months-long hiatus due to a water leakage in 2018). While the bar never seemed to be lacking in business--lines on Friday and Saturday nights could be seen wrapping around the block--there were some odd discrepancies about the bar that just didn’t seem to make sense.
To begin, why exactly did Grille 86 close its doors? And why so abruptly? While the business itself never released an official statement-- in fact, they never even issued a “goodbye,” but quietly cleared out the space at the end of the 2019 spring semester and stopped posting on all social channels-- the word on the street is that they could no longer afford the rent at Storrs Center.
While it’s true that Storrs Center is more expensive real estate, especially in comparison to the location of other UConn bars like Huskies, Tavern and Ted’s on the north side of campus, Grille 86 definitely had good business. Their long lines and extremely overpriced drinks certainly led to some sort of revenue flowing into the establishment.
However, these same money-making factors were some of the reasons that some UConn students had a more negative view of Grille.
“The drinks were expensive and on busy nights you couldn’t do much but stand around trying not to get pushed over,” Annika Flagerholm, a class of 2019 alumni, said when asked what she remembered most about Grille.
One of their most well-known drinks, a blue-tinted “fish-bowl” pitcher composed of an energy drink and a mixture of alcohol, was a whopping $18. This is an especially steep price when compared with the similar “Beaver” pitcher offered at Ted’s for only $10. In addition, this year Huskies Bar and Tavern began selling “dog bowl” pitchers at only $8 a pitcher.
“Grille debatably had the best music but undoubtedly had the worst drinks,” said Maya Placek, a seventh-semester biomedical engineering major.
In addition to expensive drinks, Grille always had lines out the door, wrapping around the block every Friday and Saturday night. Sometimes the lines seemed solely for show, however, especially when one could see a nearly empty dance floor through the window.
Before Grille closed at the end of last semester, they put on many events to seemingly try and save their failing business. On Wednesdays, they promoted a new event that was 18+ to party and 21+ to drink. In addition, Thursdays became “Ladies Night” in which women didn’t have to pay cover to get in and there were $3 Truly drink deals.
The end was in sight, however, when the last weekend of the semester was deemed “Loose Change” weekend at Grille. Drinks were a penny each on Thursday, a nickel on Friday and a quarter on Saturday. According to students, the drinks were ridiculously strong, making some wonder if the business was just trying to get rid of their remaining alcohol.
While the “Loose Change” weekend was just as crowded as expected, students did like the cheap drinks and fun atmosphere.
“I liked Grille because most of the time they had some pretty lit music, but the only downside was that their drinks were dumb expensive. The upside to them closing was that the last weekend the drinks were only a penny,” Dominique Rock, a class of 2019 alumni, said.
After “Loose Change” weekend, Grille never opened its doors again. While some students may be saying goodbye as others say good riddance, there’s no doubt that Grille 86 made an impact on a certain generation of the UConn population. So long, Grille.
Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.