Remember when you were young, and you’d go out to dinner with your parents, only to run into one of your teachers? Never was life more horrifying than in that moment. The only thing that would make it worse was if the teacher spotted you, and actually wanted to chat. Now imagine this–there’s a sick group of students who actually enjoy hanging out in public with pedagogues.
Granted, these students are college-aged with two decades of TV violence under their belts that’s helped desensitize them to a level of habitual indifference–but still, it can’t be said that students from any of the seven Claremont colleges frighten easily. Professors and undergrads routinely and unawkwardly run into one another at The Press, a favorite haunt for each in Claremont’s little village–where fun food and great cocktails make for the ultimate in sociability.
Since the centrally located restaurant opened in 1995, The Press has drawn campus traffic of all walks with its good food, drink, and live music. Variety is the spice of life at The Press, and they reach out to the most eclectic of tastes. If tearing apart meat with your bare hands revs up the appetite, they’ve got it; or if eating food that doesn’t scream out for help when it’s being prepared is more your speed, they’ve got that, too–the menu has enough to satisfy all palates. Some of the tastier items are the potato taquitos, Aunt Louise’s Chocolate Cake, and the wide selection of Italian, Mexican and Asian entrées. Carnivores will marvel at the cooked-to-order beef burgers and filet medallions, while vegetarians will, in good conscience, consume the vegan Village Chili, vegan chocolate cake, even a vegan Thanksgiving dinner available year round.
Although difficult for some to comprehend, select college students might put more stock into alcoholic beverages, and view eating as an afterthought (the old "hops-n-barley diet"). For those amiable little scamps, The Press does not disappoint once again, with a music-to-student’s-ears Happy Hour from 3-6pm daily, with the elements in place for a cheap buzz–$2 domestic, $3 import draught pints, well cocktails, and house wines, and $6 pint margaritas. The Happy Hour grub isn’t bad either, with nachos, fried mozzarella sticks and quesadillas. Meanwhile, there’s also a menu of fine wines and sapid cocktails for the professors who know their way around a vineyard or have expensive Johnnie Walker habits. This sort of outer-classroom experience makes the Robin William/Matt Damon relationship in Good Will Hunting seem altogether uninteresting.
But The Press’s greatest lure has to be the music, as it houses the areas most happening live entertainment scene for original local and touring bands.
"It’s a point of pride for me that I get booking requests from bands all over the country, who have heard from other musicians what a great place it is," talent buyer Robin Young says. "The Press has a unique vibe. Some attribute it to the welcoming aspect of the building itself, or the camaraderie among the patrons, the friendly staff or just their excellent Key Lime martinis. It’s a great place to have a beer, relax, do some studying–or not–and have a good time."
The live music calendar at The Press runs Thursday through Sunday nights. If you prefer jazz, Thursday nights are for you, with the first and third Thursday of each month staging resident musicians, The Baldy Mountain Jazz Band. There’s also a live DJ spinning late-night sessions from 11pm to 1am every Thursday. Fridays and Saturdays are a grab bag of anything from alt-country, blues, indie-rock, reggae, bluegrass, world beat, punk, Americana, or just plain old rock-n-roll.
This has got to be one of the hipper-hangs for peachfuzz and wire-rims alike, right?
"The Press means a lot of different things to different people," recent Scripps College graduate, Julia Wayne, says. "For professors, it’s a place to run into students and get a drink together. For students, it’s a gateway to the Claremont community as well as a hideaway from the college. While we tend to run into each other quite frequently, it’s in a different context. So, when we see professors or our peers, we have shed some of our role and identity as students. That is–if we choose to."
Okay, so it’s no guarantee that students and professors will drink or eat together, but they do these things near each other–and, from where they come from, this has to be one of the better extracurricular activities ever dreamed up.
The Press Restaurant, 129 Harvard Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-4808. For info, check out HYPERLINK "http://www.thepressrestaurant.com" www.thepressrestaurant.com or HYPERLINK "http://www.myspace.com/the_press" www.myspace.com/the_press. Mon., 8 p.m.-mid.; Tues. & Wed., 11 a.m.-mid.; Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.-mid.