Ode to the new, worse Pub

The Pub at Overcup Oak was by far the best dining experience on Vanderbilt’s campus. Don’t tell us it’s back—unless you really mean that.


Alexa White

Campus Dining’s “reopenings” of the Pub at Overcup Oak have already fooled me twice with false—or greatly exaggerated—advertising. Why do they keep stringing us along with misplaced hope?

Andrew Kolondra Jr., Life Editor

I’ve tried before to write an ode to the Pub. I’ve tried before and I probably won’t even be satisfied with my work when this one is (Pub)lished.

The thing is, the Pub resists description. It stumps classification. You can boast about its menu, its vibes, its operating hours; you can reminisce about the giddy high of heading there with friends after an exam; you can find strength in the reassuring community solidarity of the notes Sharpie’d onto every inch of the brick wall, messages going back more than 10 years and class photos going back much farther—but without actually having been there (looking at you, classes of ‘24 and ‘25), you’ll just never fully understand. The Pub cannot be contained by the limits of the English language.

As of this week, against all odds, I thought it had survived a pandemic. I was wrong.

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Pub at Overcup Oak was reopened to the (Pub)lic with limited service on a reservations-only basis. It’s been nearly two full years since its garage-style metal door was shuttered up on the third floor of the Sarratt Student Center, only reopening for one sad, sad senior event on Feb. 2 that was not-so-secretly just a ploy for donations to Seniors Give Back. The menu at said event? Not even close to the original Pub menu. Truly deceptive.

Some may say this is far too little, far too late, and after Tuesday’s pop-up—the first in a series of three—I agree with them. Against my better judgment, I had been holding out a perhaps unrealistic hope that the event would be a significant improvement. It was not.

I think it’s time for a checklist. Decent hours? Nope—several of my senior friends have been shut out of all three pop-ups because of their class schedules, and they can’t be the only ones. Balcony seating? No again—one door was locked and the other blocked with a pile of stuff, even though a) the weather that day was mysteriously perfect and b) there was nowhere near enough indoor seating for everyone. Original Pub menu? Not a single item from it was featured—not even the all-time best item, Pub quesadillas, despite Campus Dining’s insistence that the pop-ups would feature “Pub favorites.” Chicken tenders, wings and wraps were also conspicuously, disappointingly and unsurprisingly absent, as were every Pub side option.

Good news for anyone who went to the Seniors Give Back event, though: the room-temperature sliders have returned in all their airplane-food-reminiscent glory. They were joined by salad, cold Rand cookies and the Pub fry’s redheaded stepchild, all of which could be found at the appropriate temperature right downstairs in a normal Rand lunchline.

It’s also time for a disclaimer: I fully recognize that staffing shortages have been plaguing Campus Dining for a while, as have innumerable other issues making things less than easy. Campus Dining workers are literal saints for staying strong through it all.

But I’m not asking them for a miracle, nor am I asking admin for one. I know the Pub can’t and won’t magically reopen tomorrow, at its usual hours, with its usual menu, fully staffed. I only wish that, instead of hiring interns versed in Twitterspeak to post Instagram story polls featuring the options “YASS” and “no, crying emoji,” Campus Dining would stretch the truth a little less in their advertisements and tell us exactly what a “Pub reopening” means.

I imagine I speak for most of the Pub’s loyal fanbase when I say, loudly and clearly: we just want to know what we’re getting into without getting our hopes up. And we want to know when—or, gut-wrenchingly, if—the real Pub is returning.

Because I’ve now been fooled twice. And if Campus Dining somehow manages to fool me a third time, well, then shame on the both of us.