Popular nightclub and restaurant KatManDu was packed last Thursday night, as its younger patrons gathered to celebrate the last “college night” for a while. The Trenton club came under new ownership late last year, and officials announced on Jan. 13 that it is closing for renovations. When it reopens, the beloved nighttime hotspot will have a new look and a new name.
“KatManDu transformed and changed with the times, but, like everything else, all good things come to an end,” an announcement on the club’s website read. The announcement also extends an open invitation to its farewell party tomorrow night on Thursday, Jan. 26. Despite rumors of a large cover charge, a post on KatManDu’s Facebook page Jan. 20 said that there will be no cover until 8 p.m., from which there will be an admittance charge of $10. However, those with a college ID card will only have to pay $5 after 8 p.m. The post also said that the cover “might increase after 11:30 p.m.”
“The new concept will still be a restaurant, bar and nightclub along with a banquet facility, and we will have a complete upgraded facility,” said Joe Surdo, the club’s director of marketing.
Patrons who attend the farewell party tomorrow night will be given a preview of the new concept, according to the website.
Surdo also said the club was bought out in November. An article from Nov. 14 on NJ.com said a sale was imminent as KatManDu has faced financial troubles since 2004, and had run up $100,000 in unpaid rent.
While the Trenton/Ewing area is not without other nightclubs, restaurants and bars, KatManDu has been unique since its opening in 1997. According to the club’s initial real estate developer’s website (silverandharting.com), KatManDu was constructed for $3.5 million from Trenton’s abandoned Copper Iron Works building on the Delaware River.
The club has since become a hotspot with a wide radius, and has even hosted a wide range of celebrities over its 14-year span.
In a sense the building is a variety of different places grouped together. Upon entering KatManDu, patrons maneuver between a variety of bar areas, a main dance floor and stage, a separate pub (the Cooper Iron Works Pub) and another stage and dance floor outside. KatManDu’s main dance floor does have a giant disco ball, but the club itself currently boasts a colorful and amusingly tasteless mixture of tropical designs and southwestern facades.
“Honestly, senior nights were the best because all your friends were there which is what made it epic,” said Lizbeth Veliz, ’10. “I was not that fond of it on a regular Thursday College Night, but I did like the décor.”
Still, College Night has been popular with many students of the College and nearby Rider University for some time. According to Surdo, these discounted nights were started a year or two after the club first opened. Held every Thursday night, female students needed only their college ID cards for free admission before 11 p.m., while male students received a discounted price. Inside, all students enjoyed $1 bottles of beer and $4 mixed drinks. For the average stressed-out and cash-strapped college student, spending only a few bucks on a night at Kat has been a more than welcome way to blow off steam.
“After freshman year, everyone basically hung out in their own groups, and Kat was a great place for these different cliques to converge into one happy, drunken family,” said Diana Bubser, ’11. “Kat was also the catalyst for stereotypical college shenanigans. A few years ago, my friend walked back to campus from Kat at 3 a.m. Dangerous and irrevocably idiotic, yes, but also an incident that will be talked about for years to come. Whatever this ‘new concept’ is, it has a lot to live up to.”
In fact, students of the College have enjoyed the club so much that they have been holding senior nights there for the past several years.
“I was not the biggest frequenter of KatManDu, but that place, mainly due to its size and proximity to campus. was the best senior night venue by far. I feel very bad for the seniors who won’t get to experience a place that was for the most part, clean, well-kept and fun,” said Bobby Olivier, ’11.
Indeed, students who have yet to turn the legal age are feeling the letdown of this change.
“I feel like I’ve been cheated out of my Kat memories,” said Erin Ehrola, junior English and secondary education double major.
Nevertheless, KatManDu officials are looking forward what the future will bring.
“We are excited for the change, and we realize that the college students have been great customers of ours and we will see them back when we reopen,” Surdo said. Fortunately for the students of the College and Rider, Surdo also said they will be bringing back College Night.
In the meantime, students will simply have to find another place as wild, fun and wonderfully tacky as KatManDu.