Ryan Condon has repeatedly referenced his plans to remake Big John’s Tavern as the bar he remembers, but his use of the word “renovation” in an interview apparently alarmed fellow members of the tradition-minded crowd.
“We want to know what’s going to happen to the nametags,” says Scott Sutter, a 2001 Citadel graduate, who called me from Connecticut on behalf of the many classmates who’d contacted him.
The nametags, Condon confirms, are safe.
“We don’t intend on removing any memorabilia,” Condon says. “We’d like to add more to it.”
As Sutter explains the longstanding Citadel tradition, cadets who can’t leave campus during the week “go AWOL and pound their nametags into the wall.” Sutter’s nametag is directly above the door, alongside tags representing decades worth of illicit Big John’s visits.
“Some of these guys died over in the desert,” Sutter says, adding that seeing the tags on trips back to Charleston “is like returning to Mecca.”
Condon clarifies that the renovations he’s considering include new booths, a new bar top and new flooring.
“We’re just making it look clean again,” Condon says. “We have no intention of taking the nametags down.”