Returning to a corner near SCU: The Hut

For decades The Hut played a special role in campus life—for better or for worse. Now it’s reopening—with a facelift.

Tim Long has been here before. It was the late 1970s, and he and Santa Clara student Claranne Ravizza ’78 would stop by The Hut, the bar at the corner of Franklin Street and The Alameda. Now they co-own the business and are reviving it.

“It was dark,” Long says, and he pauses. “You know, it was a college bar.”

It was also check-and-jowl with the Santa Clara University campus. So, naturally, the exterior was red: red brick topped by red-painted wood. Back in those days, The Alameda was a four-lane road running through the heart of campus. Also back in those days, Long played baseball and studied at San Jose City College.

Tuesdays at The Hut were known as “little Fridays” because there were no classes at Santa Clara on Wednesdays. The Jesuits, Long says, felt students needed an extra day to study midweek. That tradition ended, he surmises, once the University came to grips with the fact that many undergrads weren’t studying on the free day, but were, perhaps, making up for the night before at The Hut.

For Long and Ravizza, dating led to marriage and children. One—baseball player Matt Long ’09—followed Claranne to SCU. Matt’s sister, Jenna Johnson, remembers going to the bar once while visiting Matt on campus. “Probably because it was the only bar around,” she says, and she laughs.

And that, love it or hate it, is what made The Hut part of the Santa Clara University experience for many. Friendships were forged over pints and pitchers and shots. Relationships began at the tables. And success—a job after graduation, surviving finals, graduating itself—was celebrated by pinning a signed dollar bill or business card to the ceiling. Plus another round. Commencement morning, the place was packed to the gills, with those about to graduate enjoying the Dads and Grads tradition of a shot with pop.

Hut 2.0

Now Long stands on The Hut’s bare, newly-lain floorboards—the old floor and its fragrant palimpsest of sticky residue was carted off this past year. As 2018 winds down, the college bar of old is down to the studs inside.

What led to the rebirth? For those who missed it: The Hut closed in 2016, after decades of hosting Broncos, when former owner Mike O’Brien decided not to renew the lease. Its closure prompted Bronco alumni around the world share their memories of time lost at the bar. Students called for its reopening in an online petition that garnered 1,765 signatures.

On this day, Long, an electrical contractor, and Johnson, who is wearing his grandchild strapped into a baby carrier, are working on a plan to do just that—reopen The Hut.

It’s more than a plan, actually.

Megan Lee, Pinning Dollar Bill At The Hut
Megan Lee pins a dollar to the wall of The Hut. / Photo courtesy Food and Agribusiness Institute director Greg Baker, who also took his capstone students to The Hut.

Along with developer Casey O’Connor, a Cal Poly graduate and father of Ian O’Connor ’10 and Carson O’Connor ’21, they have a plan with permits and community support. The families felt the location and history were simply too good to let the building sit idle.

This old Hut will rise again—as a fast-casual restaurant specializing in smoked meats, seasonable treats, craft beers, and cocktails—sometime in early 2019. The group hopes for a January opening.

Bronco red runs deep with this crew—all the way back to the class of 1926, in fact. Along with the O’Connor boys, Matt Long, and Claranne Ravizza, Johnson’s great-grandfather, Edgar C. Schott ’26, grandfather Eugene A. Ravizza ’50, and great-uncles Larry Schott ’53 and Stephen C. Schott ’60 attended SCU—and maybe lifted a pint or two at The Hut. (Johnson’s uncle Mark A. Ravizza ’99, S.J., only briefly went to classes here but was ordained in the Mission and taught philosophy at Santa Clara; he’s now serving as a General Counselor to the Superior General of the Jesuits in Rome.)

In a nod to Hut history, the baby strapped to Johnson’s chest on that day, and the relationships nurtured at the bar, the new Hut will be family-friendly. Johnson, who has more than a decade of restaurant experience, will open the joint.

After pointing out where the cold case for pints will stand—the original one from The Hut but refurbished—she leans into the face of 5-month-old Berkeley, the younger sibling of potential future Broncos Wes and Ellie.

“You’ll bus tables, won’t you?” she coos.

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