Dixie Chicken (bar)

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Dixie Chicken back entrance

The Dixie Chicken, also known as The Chicken, is a bar located in College Station, Texas, directly across the street from the Texas A&M University campus. The Dixie Chicken claims to serve the most beer per square foot of any bar in the United States.[1]

“One of the most recognizable restaurants in College Station,”[2][3] the Dixie Chicken is known as Texas A&M's "favorite local watering hole."[4] The Dixie Chicken is the oldest and most famous bar in the Northgate district,[5] has a live rattlesnake on the premises,[6] and is home to a weekly domino tournament.[7]

The Dixie Chicken was founded by local businessmen Don Anz and Don Ganter.[8][9] Anz had rented a pool hall, the Aggie Den, directly across the street from the Texas A&M University campus. The two businessmen invested about $7,000 to convert the pool hall into a bar. The two renamed the facility the Dixie Chicken, taken from the album of the same name by band Little Feat. The decor was inspired by the cover of a Jerry Jeff Walker album, and featured swinging doors at the entrance, sturdy wooden tables - over time covered in patron's carvings - pool tables, dominoes, and signs on the walls.[9] In a 2014 article, ESPN writer Scott Eden described the bar: "The exterior resembles a honky-tonk as dreamed up by the Disney people who designed Frontierland. On the inside, it's pure Texas, with outlaw country on an infinite loop and Lone Star longnecks sliding down the bars, not to mention photos of old Bonfires all over the walls."[10]

The bar opened on June 15, 1974.[11] It soon became a favored hangout of Texas A&M students and aspiring singers Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. The two often brought their guitars to the bar and played impromptu concerts on the back porch. In the beginning, they were often kicked out of the bar, but as their playing improved, the owners allowed them to stay and play.[11]

The bar was the inspiration for the unofficial Texas A&M Tradition of "ring dunking".[12] In the late 1970s a student dropped his brand-new Aggie ring in a pitcher of beer. He was challenged by a friend to drink the pitcher to retrieve the ring. This spread to become a widespread practice among Texas A&M seniors.[9] Due to changes in Texas laws, by 2005 instead of pitchers, students are only allowed to buy 32 ounce (950 mL) mugs of beer on Ring Day at the Dixie Chicken. Ring Dunking elsewhere, however, remains unregulated.[13]

The Dixie Chicken was expanded in 1981, and in the mid-2000s an additional porch was added.[9] The decor has changed only minimally.[9] Ganter died in 2004, just days after the Dixie Chicken had its 30th anniversary.[14] His daughters, Katy Jackson and Jennifer Ganter, now run the bar.[9] In 2014, the Dixie Chicken celebrated its 40th anniversary, making it the oldest bar in the Northgate, Texas entertainment district in College Station.[9]

In April 2006, the Dixie Chicken was named "College Bar of the Month" in Playboy.[1] Complex.com named it the Number 1 Best College Campus Bars in 2013.[11][15] Notable customers have included United States Senator John McCain and the former president of Panama, Martín Torrijos.[11] In his comments to the Texas A&M graduating class of Fall 2008, President George W. Bush stated that, "Back in my day, I think I would have enjoyed dunk [sic] my ring."[16] The president also joked about the absence of his Secretary of Defense (and former president of A&M) Robert Gates from the ceremony by stating, "It's not like he's over at the Dixie Chicken.”[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Dixie Chicken". On Campus. Playboy Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-04-28. Retrieved 2006-04-27. 
  2. ^ Clair Lavender (2008-09-03). "Students rave about restaurants in College Station that not only define a community, but a culture.". The Battalion. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  3. ^ Davis, Glenn D (2011), College Station, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 9780738579559 
  4. ^ Mark Schabach (2006-08-14). "Texas A&M hoops finds place on football's back". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  5. ^ Hensley, Laura (2006-09-23). "Promenade drinking ban sends crowds to other bars". The Eagle (newspaper). Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  6. ^ Matthew Berry (2007-11-21). "Love/Hate for Week 12". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  7. ^ Jesse Wright (2002-04-24). "Aggies spend time, earn money playing in domino tournaments". The Battalion. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  8. ^ Luke Jackson (2004-11-22). "Dixie Chicken owner Don Ganter dies". The Battalion. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Salazar, Andrea (June 12, 2014), "Dixie Chicken to celebrate 40 years of business on Northgate", The Bryan-College Station Eagle, retrieved Dec 11, 2014 
  10. ^ Eden, Scott (November 26, 2014), The Burning Desire of Texas A&M, ESPN 
  11. ^ a b c d Hlavaty, Craig (June 13, 2014), "College Station's legendary Dixie Chicken celebrates a milestone", The Houston Chronicle, retrieved Dec 11, 2014 
  12. ^ Jenna Janik (2005-09-26). "Unofficial tradition of ring dunking began on accident". The Battalion. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  13. ^ Victoria White (2005-04-14). "Drinking on the Northgate promenade will not be allowed for Ring Day". The Battalion. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  14. ^ Lindsay Liepman (2004-11-23). "Dixie Chicken Owner Dies". KBTX-TV. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  15. ^ The 25 Best College Campus Bars, Complex.com, April 2013, retrieved December 11, 2014 
  16. ^ George W. Bush (2008-12-12). "Bush Delivers Commencement Address at Texas A & M University". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  17. ^ "Bush mentions local bar in speech". The Eagle (newspaper). 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°37′04″N 96°20′47″W / 30.617815°N 96.346304°W / 30.617815; -96.346304