AskDefine | Define rathskeller

Dictionary Definition

rathskeller n : a tavern below street level featuring beer; originally a German restaurant in the basement of city hall

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A bar or restaurant in a basement, especially one that serves beer.

See also

Extensive Definition

Rathskeller (German: "council cellar", modern spelling: Ratskeller) is a name in German-speaking countries for a bar below street level. The term originally referred specifically to restaurants that were located in the basement of city hall (Rathaus). As a proper noun, many taverns, nightclubs and similar establishments throughout the world now use this as a name.
The word had been used in English since the mid-19th century.
The Ram's Head Rathskeller in Chapel Hill, North Carolina was opened in 1948 by an Austrian Jew by the last name of Danziger, who came to Chapel Hill as a refugee from the Holocaust, "The Rat" was the first restaurant in the area to employ an entirely African-American staff. Long a popular spot with students and alumni the restaurant, which extends over a catacomb-like basement with many different rooms, is filled with UNC memorabilia and history. "The Rat" is one of the oldest continuously operating businesses in Chapel Hill.
Another Rathskeller restaurant is located in Indianapolis, IN, and has served Bavarian fare since 1894.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alehouse, bar, barrel house, barroom, beer garden, beer parlor, bistro, blind tiger, cabaret, cafe, cocktail lounge, dive, dramshop, drinking saloon, gin mill, groggery, grogshop, honky-tonk, local, nightclub, pothouse, pub, public, public house, rumshop, saloon, saloon bar, speakeasy, taproom, tavern, wine shop
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