A local San Luis Obispo business closing is never ideal, but seeing some businesses go hurts more than others. The Graduate, a popular venue that has delivered music, entertainment, food, and drinks since 1975, has recently closed after 45 years of serving our community.
The Graduate was popular among Poly students, local residents and even out-of-town tourists who were looking to spend quality time enjoying themselves with others. Due to the pandemic, the establishment was forced to close as they were making less than 10% of their normal sales with only outdoor sales. The Graduate has left great memories for many and moving forward locals are anxious about how its legacy — and the building itself — will be filled.
One of the main attractions of The Graduate was Thursday night line dancing. This is when they would host organized line dancing for SLO’s country music lovers and will be the event that is missed the most.
“I never had a bad time line dancing. It was a fun downtown-like experience for me when I was too young for the bars. I’ll miss going to The Grad to dance and it’s a shame it’s gone because I don’t know of anywhere else in SLO that can offer a similar experience,” said senior statistics major Jack Langston.
The Thursday night line dancing won’t be the only thing SLO will be missing, as the venue hosted a myriad of live music, DJs, rap artists, and more. The vacancy this closure is leaving is a hole bigger than some might assume. The Grad would often host artists and other live bands that normally wouldn’t get a chance to perform anywhere else in SLO.
“There aren’t enough places in SLO that provide good house and techno music on a regular basis. Since The Graduate is closing, other venues need to rise to the occasion and provide more of this kind of entertainment,” said Cal Poly alumni Griffin Nordin.
Nordin expresses feelings that many Poly students share: there is a need for venues to provide more unique forms of entertainment.
The majority of venues in SLO only operate on occasion, or provide a consistent and predictable type of entertainment that can get old. The Grad was special because it was a venue that wasn’t afraid of experimenting with new forms of entertainment, and when something worked, it usually stuck. If The Grad remains permanently closed, SLO can only hope that a new business will be able to provide a unique level of entertainment on a regular basis.
With the Graduate closed, the future is full of new potential and the SLO community has a chance to voice what they would like to see.
“I would want to see themed nights, maybe the kinds that are alliterations,” said senior Business major Jesse Chan. “For example, venues could do Wine Wednesdays or Thirsty Thursdays. Of course, I’d love a venue to pick up the tradition of line dancing nights as well. I enjoy when a venue follows popular trends or creates their own traditions. Those types of events always incentives me to show up.”
Over the past few years SLO has seen plenty of new events pop up such as Shabang, Live Oak Music Festival, Avila Beach concerts, and more. The community wants venues to provide them with good entertainment, and that desire has been fulfilled time and time again.
The Graduate will be missed because of the memories that it provided the SLO community over the decades but locals can remain optimistic that a new business will be willing and capable of filling its spot.