Known for its cheap alcohol and cramped dance floor, Grog House Bar and Grill will celebrate 20 years of drunken debauchery tonight.
After opening in 1996, the bar, located at 1718 W. University Ave., has become a Midtown mainstay. On any given Friday night, hundreds of students can be seen trudging up Grog’s narrow stairwell and onto its main floor, where top-40 hits blare through humid air and foggy memories are made.
And after two decades in business, nothing has changed: The bar’s lively atmosphere and pounding music still keep crowds coming — to the tune of about 1,500 guests every weekend, said Patrick Smith, Grog’s manager and partial owner.
To ring in the anniversary, the bar will offer free entry and 20-cent well drinks, Smith said.
“We remodeled the bar, but all of the specials are exactly the same from when we started,” Smith said. “I think our specials are what set us apart and keep students coming back.”
And while the budget-friendly liquor and a live disc jockey serve as major attractors, Grog also gives students the chance to add to their repository of college stories.
Johan Rivera, a 20-year-old applied physiology and kinesiology junior, said he regularly parties at Grog and has seen his fair share of bizarre incidents there.
“On one of my first visits, I remember seeing a girl fall down the stairs of the entrance,” he said. “I’ve also heard of a girl who had to break out of the bar at 3 a.m. because she passed out in the bathroom and got locked in.”
Rivera said he is happy the bar is still around and that over the years it has solidified itself as a campus treasure. Smith expressed the same sentiment.
“Grog has become a Gator tradition,” Smith said.
Marie Fernicola, a UF mechanical engineering senior, said she has gone to Grog on more than 10 occasions during her time as a student. She even spent a birthday there, she said.
Although the bar’s wild environment brings about equally wild behavior, a night spent there is usually a good time, she said.
“Grog is characterized by bad decisions,” Fernicola said with a smile.
But it remains one of the best ways to decompress in the middle of a busy semester, said Maria Paula Vargas, a UF accounting junior.
The 21-year-old said Grog’s diverse array of music and the welcoming atmosphere will keep her coming back for as long as she attends UF.
“It is the perfect pick-me-up after a long week of school and stress,” Vargas said.
She said Grog’s welcoming environment attracts her to return.
While many students like Fernicola and Vargas have been to Grog on multiple occasions, for some, the bar’s atmosphere is a bit too much to handle.
Chandler Small, a 19-year-old theatre sophomore, has visited Grog once and does not plan to return.
“I can understand why some people enjoy going to Grog with its close and convenient location, but I’d rather spend my time actually enjoying the atmosphere of the places I go to,” Small said. “I don’t want to be covered in sweat and other people’s stink.”