This Homecoming, people will gather with their friends and family just as they’ve always done. But there will be one thing missing: The Olde Heidelberg. It was destroyed by fire Aug. 18.
“The ’Berg was the type of place you took your family or friends from out of town, because no other place in Columbia had that ‘Mizzou hangout’ type of feel,” said Shaun Thomason, a May 2003 MU graduate and member of Marching Mizzou. “No other place has that feeling.”
Arnie Fagan, owner of Cool Stuff and a 1987 MU graduate, said his family frequently came to Columbia — and always went to the The Olde Heidelberg.
“The ’Berg was the only place they would eat,” Fagan said.
Many others seem to agree that the The Olde Heidelberg was the place to be, especially at homecoming.
According to general manager Rusty Walls, the Heidelberg’s busiest time of year was during Homecoming weekend.
“Probably two or three thousand people show up that Friday or Saturday,” Walls said.
“It wasn’t just another football weekend. People come back to Mizzou to be together for Homecoming.”
MU senior Zaria Qadafi remembered the The Olde Heidelberg’s homecoming rush, too. “It’s busier around homecoming because there are veterans of Mizzou there,” Qadafi said.
As a regular, Qadafi said, the Homecoming overload could be overwhelming.
“The crowds irritated me,” Qadafi said. “I would go there every weekend with my books to study and have a drink, and there were all these extra people there.
Thomason said Marching Mizzou members loved to gather at the The Olde Heidelberg because it was a part of MU.
“Marching Mizzou represents the university,” he said. “And in a small sense, the ’Berg did as well.”
Thomason said Marching Mizzou alumni are counting on their old stomping grounds being there next fall.
“We can only hope that when we come back next homecoming, it will be there, standing tall and proud again,” he said.
Walls said construction will begin soon in the same location, and that it should be completed by the end of the winter semester.
In the meantime, The Olde Heidelberg’s patrons will have to find another homecoming gathering spot.
“Boone Tavern even has the same two-for-one appetizers,” said Qadafi, referring to the The Olde Heidelberg’s deal during Happy Hour. “But it’s not the ’Berg.”