April 17, 2024

Pour one out for Campustown…

Editors Note from Ted, I asked TGS members to write about their favorite college bars when we all heard that Mickeys was going to close, and while we got some great stories Nicole put the words together the best. Pour one out for original Es Tas and Chasers.

Campustown is a magical place where we drank 32 ounce mixed drinks from $5 mugs like invincibility was the truth and adulthood and hangovers were lies.

When rumor spread on Twitter that Mickey’s in Ames was closing, I was immediately taken on a journey through my college memories. Everyone was sharing stories of their weekends on Welch and it really highlighted just how much those few blocks have changed in a short time. It turns out that Mickey’s is staying open under new ownership, but many places haven’t been as lucky. The following establishments may not exist in real life anymore, but they’re still in my heart.

It looks like Mickey’s will live to see another glorious day, but should they decide to change it I’ll have to pour one out for the old place – specifically in the manner in which I dumped out the remainder of my friend’s mug once as we began our walk home. I stuck my arm straight out and tipped the mug right from midnight to six, sending ice and alcohol (but obviously no fucks) onto the pavement. Mickey’s is my favorite Campustown bar. I’ll always appreciate the little ledge in the women’s bathroom where you can sit your phone or purse, well outside the splash zone. I forgot my phone there once and some kind, drunk soul turned it into the bar for me. I love Mickey’s and Mickey’s loves me back.

Pour one out for Charlie Yokes, (editors note, it will always be Peoples to me) or whatever it was called when you were in school. Such a prime location on the corner, frequently packed, and it’s now a CVS. Although I’m happy students have a convenient place to get prescriptions that is not the god forsaken student health center, the building is unrecognizable and it still hurts my heart a little. My most memorable night at Yokes was chill – my roommates and I casually went through more Bud Lights than we originally intended and arranged them on the windowsill. I looked up and a couple of the TVs were playing ISUtv re-runs. There was my face, reading the news with the sound off. No one noticed, of course, but it was surreal and still makes for a funny story.

Pour one out for the awful 18+ bar where I spent my 21st birthday because my friends were younger than me. I looked like a dumbass ordering drinks because I didn’t know what bars had and I got groped a lot by some guy claiming to be a European exchange student leaving tomorrow. Sure, dude.

Pour one out for Battle’s BBQ, where I went as a high school student in town for all state choir. They gave me a free koozie a few years later when I attended ISU and I still cherish it.

Pour one out for the clothing store where I bought a pair of obnoxious jeans I couldn’t really afford at the behest of a bad boyfriend. Some of these memories are more bittersweet than fond, but the passing of time and all that I’ve learned makes me feel wistful.

It wasn’t technically in Campustown, but pour one out for Chinese Home Style Cooking because everyone loved it. Lord knows I appreciated how close to campus and affordable it was.

Lastly, pour one out for the old Chicha Shack location. The business still exists in Campustown, but the old spot was where I had one of my most serene and perfect college memories. A friend and I went after a football win and at some point the music turned to “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind. Without a word, everyone in the place started singing along quietly and it just felt right.

Getting older is bullshit. In the best “Spring Breakers” voice I can manage, I say, “Campustown forever!”

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Nicole Gustafson
Nicole Gustafson 56 Articles

Nicole was born in Chicago and raised in Des Moines. She took her talents to The Iowa State University, where she earned a degree in journalism. You can find Nicole cheering on her favorite sports teams, hanging out with her dog, or finishing a Netflix marathon. Nicole is a big fan of #pitcherswhorake, fat guy TD's, and carbs. She's not a fan of mornings, winter, or vegetables and will complain to anyone who will listen.

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