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James M. ’55

Thanks for your question! I’m afraid the Var Bar is no more. Its slogan was “The Handwriting’s on the Wall,” a reference to its tradition of inviting patrons to paint graffiti on its interior. The Varsity was a popular student hangout in the 1950s and 1960s (former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson ’63, JD’66 bragged that he was a bouncer there during his campus days). But the building it was located in — 625 State Street — has an eclectic history. Before the Var Bar, it was a beauty salon: Eberhart’s Cardinal Beauty Shoppe. Sometime after the Varsity closed, the building housed a store called Sweet Potatoe, a shop that sold items as unique as the sign-painter’s spelling. Since 1993, 625 State has been home to the Mediterranean Café, a popular spot for falafel and hummus. Patrons of the Mediterranean Café often call it the Med Caf, so the tradition of shortening the establishment’s name lives on. It may not be creative, but it’s affectionate.

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