It may be the happy hour nachos, or maybe the lack of TVs, or perhaps the unisex bathrooms, or maybe it’s just the happy hour nachos, but everyone comes here at some point, and falls in love with the place. It’s one of the only bars left in the entire world brave enough to rely on its patrons to talk to each other instead of listening to their electronics. I’m actually surprised there aren’t more fistfights. 

Yes, this is the place that you come to make political rants to your friends, who are presumably also Kennedy School dropouts. And it’s here where you begin to understand why this place was named after the horrible, smelly, hairy monster of legend. Has anyone actually read Beowulf? Anyone? Does anyone remember why Grendel kills everyone in the Mead Halls all the time? I’ll remind you: It’s because he could’t stand the sound of drunken revelry! Well done all of you tonight! Let’s rouse the monster.

I think more than a little credit has to go to The Kueltzer family for keeping this place fresh, from the time it was a hippie salad bar to the days when they fought a church in the Supreme Court for the right to sell booze. Sue and Herbert, according to Wikipedia, founded the place, but these days, we all know Kari. 

Kari is ubiquitous. She’s a Historical Fellow at the CHS. She’s on the HSBA board, and part of the Winthrop Park Conservancy. She has a kid and runs a restaurant, and still has time to watch her husband rock out. And she doesn’t just watch. She’s pretty vocal. She’s always introducing the Board of HSBA to new marketing techniques and technologies. Keeping up with the times better than most of us, to make sure that Grendel’s vibe continues to appeal to crowds young and old, even as the times change. 

Since I’m supposed to be a historian, I figured it might be best if I helped you all understand Here’s how much the times have changed since Grendel’s was founded in 1971. Here’s some fun facts about 1971: 

Average annual salary of an American: $10,600

Houses cost an average of $25,400, Gas was 40 cents per gallon

The NASDAQ didn’t exist at the beginning of the year, but debuted before the end of it, and the DOW Industrial closed that year at 890

Voting age is 21 until the end of the year, when the 26th amendment changes it to 18 in response to the Vietnam war, which is still in full swing.Jim Morrison is found dead in a Paris bathtub, Diane Arbus and Coco Chanel dead from other tragic causes, though Coco was born in 1883, so she did ok.

Intel releases the world’s first microporcessor

Ray Tomlinson, RIP, invents email at BBN tech in Fresh Pond

Rock em Sock Em robots are the most widely sold toy that year, beating out Etch A Sketch, Battleship, and Operation

Don Rickles was the host of the oscars

Court ruled in favor of Grendel’s 8-1! I know that was actually in 1982, but it still was pretty shocking to a millenial like me

A list of other exciting business endeavours founded or opened in 1971 that have survived, as well includes

Fed Ex Founded

Walt Disney World Founded

NASDAQ Founded

NPR broadcasts its first programming

GreenPeace organized

Southwest Airlines


Jiffy Lube


Willy Wonka Candy Company  

People you may have heard of who were also born in 1971:Johnny Knoxville

Kid Rock

Lil John

Tanya Harding 

But also

Ethan Hawke

Sean Astin aka Samwise Gamji

John Hamm

Jennifer Connoly

and Claudia Schiffer 

In all, it was a pretty good year. That’s the one that kicked this place off. It has not lost a shred of quality since then, in my opinion, and as it continues to pick up steam, I hope you’ll pick up your glasses and raise a toast to 45 more years. Here’s to you and yours, Kari. May you be buried in a casket made from a hundred year old oak, which I will plant tomorrow. Cheers.

By, Daniel Berger – Jones