While the sleek, modern bar in the recently rejuvenated Huskie Den may not look anything like the set of “Cheers!,´ the management is hoping that all those who live, work and learn on the NIU campus come to think of it as their local corner tavern.
“We are very excited for people to come and check us out,” said John Boswell, who oversees retail campus dining. “We hope to quickly become that place where faculty, staff and students of age can come at the end of the day and enjoy a beverage.”
Located inside the newly remodeled Huskie Den on the ground floor of the Holmes Student Center, the actual bar has seating for 10, but beverages may be enjoyed anywhere within the 12,000 square foot Huskie Den.
The venue currently offers 21 different beers, ciders and seltzers ranging from a selection of big-name light beers on up to dark and heavy craft beers. Soon, Boswell said, the bar hopes to also offer beers from The Forge, a local craft brewer. Prices for beer, ciders and seltzers range from $3 to $5 per can or bottle. The bar also serves a selection of four different wines – a cabernet sauvignon, a pinot grigio, a white zinfandel and a Moscato – for $5 per six-ounce pour.
During its first two weeks of operation, the selection of drinks has proven popular.
“One afternoon last week we had a group of students lined up and waiting when we opened at 4 p.m. and they were all smiles, posting pictures on social media of themselves enjoying a beer in the student center,” Boswell said. “We hope that everyone who comes in has that kind of reaction. We want this to be a fun, relaxing place where people can come at the end of the day and chat, play pool or grab a snack.”
For now, the bar is open 4 until 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hours will be adjusted based upon demand, which Boswell expects will increase once the lower level of the Huskie Den opens this week. That portion of the Den features a stage for live entertainment and a 16-lane bowling alley, which is scheduled to come back online later this spring.
The lower level of the Huskie Den will debut Thursday, Jan. 30 during the kickoff celebration for the university’s 125th anniversary.
All of the venues on the remodeled first floor of the student center have been seeing increasingly heavy traffic since the start of the second semester, Boswell said. The Huskie Grill, the Depot and the Starbucks have all been setting new records for single day sales on nearly a daily basis since students have returned. A QDOBA restaurant will open across from the Huskie Den after spring break.