Business lets students wear coats to bars



By Colleen Vest

Staying warm on the walk to the bars just got a little more convenient.

Starting Thursday night, University graduate students Guy Tal, Travis Dirks and Radhika Rangarajan, along with alumna Valerie Blomgren, began offering Curbside Coat Check, a coat check service outside campus bars.

“After being students here for a while, we noticed that a lot of people don’t wear their coats out at night, even when it’s cold,” Rangarajan said. “There aren’t booths in a lot of these bars where you can put your coat, and it’s annoying to have to carry it around and look after it once you get inside.”

After filling out paperwork to get licensed by the city of Champaign, the state and the federal government, the four business owners talked to a few of the campus bars and students who frequent them.

“We are licensed for the public right-of-way, which would be the sidewalks,” Dirks said. “So we don’t technically need permission, but we talked to Firehaus and Brother’s just to let them know.”

People in line at bars will be able to wear their coats to the front of the line and then can choose to check it, Dirks said. After filling out a card of information, the coat owner receives a stub to present at the end of the night to get his or her coat back, Tal added.

“As a backup, we are going to have them fill out a card and leave it in their coats,” Tal said. “So that way if you happen to lose your stub, you just have to present your ID.”

It costs $5 per coat, but there is a promotional through Saturday where it will cost $3, Rangarajan said. The four business owners also plan to give out coupons around campus throughout the academic year.

After being checked in, the coats are stored in a locked and heated storage area until they are ready to be picked up by the owner, Dirks said.

“If someone wants to pick up their coat before 1:15, they can call a number on their stub, and we will have their coat ready in about 10 minutes,” Rangarajan said.

After 1:15 a.m., all of the checked coats will be brought to the bar so people can pick up their coats as they leave, she continued.

Despite the cold weather and hassle of carrying around coats, some students remain nervous about a coat check.

“I would never use a coat check at a campus bar,” said Shannon Dahlgren, senior in LAS. “I would be too worried that it would get lost or switched, especially because so many people have black coats and North Face jackets.”

Francine Biedron, senior in AHS, said it wouldn’t be worth it to spend money to check her coat.

“I’m not going to a bar to pay someone to look after my coat,” she said. “I just wouldn’t wear a coat and would take the bus or a taxi.”