The Rathskeller in Olten, Switzerland
The Rathskeller in Olten, Switzerland

Ratskeller (German: "council's cellar", pl. Ratskeller, historically Rathskeller) is a name in German-speaking countries for a bar or restaurant located in the basement of a city hall (Rathaus) or nearby. Many taverns, nightclubs, bars, and similar establishments throughout the world use the term.

The word had been used in English since the mid-19th century, with at least one New York restaurant calling itself a rathskeller in the 19th century.[1]

Notable examples


The Bremen Ratskeller, c. 1900
The Bremen Ratskeller, c. 1900

The Bremen Ratskeller, erected in 1405, has one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany and was a center of the wine trade in Bremen.

The Ratskeller [de] in Lübeck is one of the oldest Ratskeller in northern Germany, with parts dating to the Romanesque era. The earliest documented use for wine storage dates to the year 1220.

North America

American establishments tend to spell the word as Rathskeller to avoid similarity with the word rat.

The former Das Deutsche Haus in Indianapolis, today known as the Athenaeum
The former Das Deutsche Haus in Indianapolis, today known as the Athenaeum

Das Deutsche Haus Ratskeller restaurant in Indianapolis received historic landmark status. Now called the Athenaeum, it has served Bavarian fare since 1894.[2]

The Rathskeller in Boston was a famous rock and roll club from 1974 to 1997, a locus of Boston alternative rock, hosting local bands such as The Cars and Pixies as well as many other bands such as The Police and Metallica before they achieved breakthrough fame.

The Minnesota State Capitol, completed in 1905, contains a Rathskeller that was recently renovated and restored in 2017. The Rathskeller contains 29 painted mottoes in German and was home to a full-service restaurant when it opened in 1905. Currently, the Rathskeller is home to a cafe serving legislators and the public.[3]

Campus dining

Many universities and public institutions in the United States and elsewhere have pubs or student center dining facilities located in repurposed basements. To market these nontraditional eating locations to students and patrons, many of these are termed "Ratskeller" or some variation thereupon, including:

See also


  1. ^ "NYPL Digital Collections". NYPL Digital Collections.
  2. ^ "Rathskeller - History". May 14, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-05-14.
  3. ^ "Restoration of Capitol Rathskeller Reveals Long-Hidden Art". Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  4. ^ Czerwienski, Tim (2006). "Index of /issues/fall_2006/linden_lane/changes-at-the-rat.html". Archived from the original on 2016-04-04. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  5. ^ "LSC Dining Services - Colorado State University". 2004-05-25. Archived from the original on 2006-09-10. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  6. ^ Mann, Charly. "The Rat (Ramshead Rathskeller) - Chapel Hill Memories". Archived from the original on 2010-10-02. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  7. ^ "Der Rathskeller » Wisconsin Union".
  8. ^ "Rathskeller". Oberlin College and Conservatory. October 24, 2016.
  9. ^ Medina, Estela (1978-08-27). "FSA clarifies its position on approval of license application". The Spectrum (University at Buffalo). p. 9. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  10. ^ "John Muir College Historic Resources & Preservation Plan" (PDF). 2008. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  11. ^ "Posted on Feb. 11: Rathskeller to become diversity cafi". McMaster University. 2004-02-11. Retrieved 2021-05-11.