Abolished bottomless beer to tame Indianola Zoo’s animals

by Kristen Erickson

It used to be simple: spend $6 and drink beer all night. Now, after changes implemented last May, Thursday nights at the Zoo have gotten a little more complicated.

More complicated, but just as popular.

“The Zoo is the only place to be on a Thursday night,” senior Beau Barrett said. “Seriously, where else are we going to party? Who cares if they have $6 all-you-can-drink or not?”

Barrett is one of many students affected by the change in drink specials. Formerly, patrons paid $6 for a plastic cup that could be refilled with domestic beer as many times as necessary. Now the beer special on Thursday nights has been changed to $1 draws of domestic beer all night.

So what caused the change?

Darrel Augustson, owner of the Zoo, said he had been approached during last year’s May Term about changing the drink special. Concern about overly intoxicated Simpson students had grown, and some attributed increased problems to the all-you-can-drink special. In addition, nearby communities like Clive had recently banned such all-you-can-drink nights, encouraging Indianola to instate a similar ban.

Rather than creating an official ordinance, the city requested that Augustson discontinue the Thursday special. Augustson cooperated and made the change.

Although Augustson notes that it is the first special he has changed since opening the bar in 1995, he feels the change may have helped him reach out to some new customers.

“In essence, it enabled me to do some things for people who don’t drink beer,” Auguston said.

In addition to the $1 draws, Augustson offers $2 mixed drinks from 9 to 11p.m. on Thursdays.

Instead of committing to an evening of beer, this year’s patrons of Indianola’s “wildest watering hole” can mix up their evening by substituting a vodka lemonade or rum and coke for not much more money.

The special also offers customers the opportunity to spend less money if they don’t really want that much to drink. Rather than spending $6 for a cup and drinking glass upon glass to capitalize on the special, patrons can leisurely order a beer or two without spending more than a few bucks.

Ross Parker, a junior who works the door Thursday evenings, said he doesn’t think the change in special has affected the bar’s popularity among Simpson students.

“You can pretty much spend the same and get about as drunk,” Parker said.

The Zoo’s customers seem to agree – or perhaps just don’t care.

“Come up to the Zoo on a Thursday at midnight,” Barrett said. “You’ll see if it’s popular or not.”