Louis’ Pub and Louis’ Loft are cornerstone hangout spots for students at the University of Saskatchewan, but what really makes the establishments special is how students themselves can shape them to feel as homey as possible.
Located in the Memorial Union Building and first established in 1981, Louis’ has hosted a variety of events from some of the most exciting bands from around the world. Past highlights include Green Day, Beach House and OK Go. It has also played host to student organizations’ fund-raising parties, weddings and receptions.
This term, the pub will host a variety of events, such as its first-ever flea market, exciting concerts and even featured guests from the Saskatoon Comic Expo. Billy Boyd, of Lord of the Rings fame, will be playing with his band at the Expo’s after party.
There’s something for everyone at Louis’, whether you’re a Tolkein fan, a country girl or a metal head and whether you like dance parties or comfortable silences.
In an email to the Sheaf, assistant manager Dan Smolinski described what makes the place feel approachable to students.
“Historically, Louis’ has always been a crucial place for university students to meet and unwind,” Smolinski said. “Louis’ stands out because it’s literally your place if you’re a student. We take feedback from our guests and reflect our menu and programming based on that.”
The pub feels bigger on the inside than it looks from the street, lending a spirit of discovery to the intimate atmosphere, while still being able to accommodate a surprisingly large number of people. The acoustics and sound design inside are renowned for being able to sustain the throbbing beats of electronic dance music concerts, while also not stealing the breath away from tight-knit groups discussing philosophy and the arts..
Smolinski shared some of his kookiest memories from his time at Louis’.
“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things during the six years I’ve been here,” Smolinski said. “Everything from serving a salad to Fred Penner, having my office converted into a dressing room for a troupe of drag queens, to seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan literally hang upside down from the ceiling and continue playing. I’ve met guitar gods like Chris Hannah, Johnny Winter and Fletcher Dragge.”
While the basement pub has an old time concert feel to it, upstairs at the casual café Louis’ Loft, a crackling fireside ambiance welcomes you in, especially during the freezing winter months. The smell of sizzling coffee, their famous fresh house-made potato crisps and baked delicacies lull you into a comfortable study coma and weaves a soothing backdrop for friendly conversations after class.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the café has less excitement going on, however. When you’re in the Loft, you’re standing on storied ground, where bands like AFI have captivated students in the past.
For first years or students new to the U of S, Louis’ can be full of potential for anticipated friendships and cherished memories waiting to happen. For returning students, it can represent reunion and reconciliation after summers spent away from campus and academic life. Every university has its popular hangout spot and for 34 years now, Louis’ has been a refuge at the U of S from the hectic whirlwind of exams and term papers that students find themselves swept into, recently augmented by the opening of the Loft.
One of my own memories at the pub involves discussing art over sangria and munching on what I thought was a platter of popcorn chicken that was particularly tender and juicy. Much to my astonishment and delight, I discovered they were in fact deep fried mushrooms. The lesson to take away here is that you might never really know what wonderful novelties you’re in for, until you’re in too deep to go back.
It’s oddly comforting to know that even a familiar location can still surprise you and this feeling sums up Louis’ perfectly. Calm and stoic, yet deliciously unpredictable.