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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The fate of the Green Elephant

15-year SMU haunt closing doors in mid-December despite popularity
 The fate of the Green Elephant
The fate of the Green Elephant

The fate of the Green Elephant

A chapter is closing for SMU students…temporarily. Yes,the rumors are true, the Green Elephant, known to most SMU studentsas the “Elephant,” is being forced to move from itslandmark location on Yale Boulevard. For 14 years, the Elephantserved as the traditional upperclassman bar. For some, it was theirsecond home.

“The Elephant was always the place to be. It was so muchfun and you could count on seeing everyone one there.

“My senior year, I think I spent more time at the Elephantthen the Pi Phi House, where I lived. I was shocked when I heardthe news. It’s like a travesty. I can’t wait to comeback for one last cheers over Homecoming,” said 2003 SMUgraduate Shannon Burnett.

The owner’s of the Elephant, Shannon McKinnon and PeteShriver had every intention of renewing their lease with the newlandlord, Barry Hancock, who purchased the building thissummer.

The Elephant closed temporarily for two weeks while the ownerswere in Scotland for McKinnon’s wedding celebration.

According to McKinnon, when he and Shriver returned Hancockstarted asking them “weird” questions about the parkingarrangement and the deck lease.

These questions left McKinnon and Shriver feeling skeptical.

“It was like we were getting ready to get the ax, and he[Hancock] was not going to tell us,” McKinnon said.

They were right. The bar owners tried contacting Hancock severaltimes to figure out the future of the Elephant. “I have 20employees and at least 30 percent to 40 percent of them havefamilies. I don’t want to leave them out in the cold,”McKinnon explained.

It’s ironic that SMU alumni would hear the news before theElephant owners. On Sept. 14, several concerned former SMU studentscalled the Elephant questioning why it was closing.

The alumni were referring to the editorial “Green ElephantIn Danger of Extinction” by Tim Rogers in the FrontBurner ofD Magazine.

The article was forwarded to former SMU students throughout thecountry. McKinnon has not seen the editorial.

Hancock finally contacted McKinnon and Shriver and asked them tobe moved out by Thanksgiving. Fortunately, for the frequentElephant goers McKinnon and Shriver made a deal to extend the moveout date to Dec. 11, so they could finish out the semester.

Many SMU alumni are returning to celebrate one last time at theElephant. They will say their final good-byes to the bar they oncecalled home.


The beginning of a tradition

The Green Elephant opened in November of 1990.

The original owners, Brady Wood and Bob Cummins named it theGreen Elephant after an EZ Haul travel trailer logo featuring afamily of green elephants was parked near one of their homes. Whengiven directions, people were always told to look for the greenelephants. So, the owners thought the name would be fitting.

Originally, the owners planned to open the Elephant for only sixmonths; however, the great success from the start prompted them tokeep it running.

In 1994, Woods and Cummins sold the Elephant to ShannonMcKinnon, Adam Jones, and Pete Shriver. McKinnon bought out Jonesin 1996.

The live music, pool tables, and patio are just a fewcharacteristics that make the atmosphere at the Elephant enjoyablefor SMU students.

Many famous bands today like Jack Ingram, Jack O’PierceBand, Supplication, and the Charlie Mars Band got their startplaying at the Elephant.

In addition, the bar was the host to annual events such as theBeta Chili Cook-Off, graduation parties, bid day parties, UT and OUweekend were annually hosted at the Elephant.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s closing. TheElephant is a huge SMU tradition. It’s sad we won’thave that anymore,” said senior Hill Fischer.

Alissa Scott, 2000 SMU graduate, still reminisces about her timespent at the Elephant.

“When I am stuck in L.A. traffic, I will sometimes thinkabout how bad I want to go the Elephant and order a double VodkaTonic and Pita Paulamary. I miss sippin’ while watching thesunset. There’s not a place around like that,” Scottsaid.

The Elephant is considered the upperclassman (21 and up) bar. Asa freshman, many students are informed about the legacy of the barand anxiously anticipate the day when they can experience it.

“It’s like forbidden fruit, but when you can finallytaste it, damn it taste good,” exclaimed junior Elephantregular Ridley Heller.

Senior Jacquelyn Byer adds, “As a freshman, I always heardthe best bar at SMU was the Elephant, but it was reserved forjuniors and seniors. When I finally walked through the doors junioryear, I understood why everyone loved it so much.”


The future of the elephant

No worries, McKinnon and Shriver already looked at possiblelocations in case a situation like this occurred.

On Oct. 15, they sent a proposal to the landlord of theirpreferred location. They expect to hear a decision in the next twoweeks.

In the worst-case scenario, McKinnon and Shriver have two otherback-up locations, in which the landlords of both locationscontacted them first. McKinnon and Shriver promise they will notmove to Addison, West Village, or Deep Elumn.

“The goal is to stay within a 2 to 2.5 mile radius ofSMU,” McKinnon said. “It’s next to impossible tobe as close to SMU.”

All of the prospective locations are within the desireddistance. However, nothing is more convenient than theElephant’s current location.

Both McKinnon and Shriver are looking forward in designing theirnew bar exactly the way they want it.

At the new location, they want to be able to serve peoplefaster. No matter where they, McKinnon and Shriver plan to have abetter parking arrangement, bigger kitchen, and bigger restroomswithout a constant plumbing problem.

As far as the original Elephant location, McKinnon recently wasinformed that his former classmate at Highland Park High School,Scott Cecil, is renting the building from Hancock. McKinnon isunsure of Cecil’s plans.

McKinnon and Shriver would ideally like to be re-opened byJanuary. Both, stress the importance of timing, because people tendto forget fast might cause them to lose their customer base.

They hope the upperclassman will continue the tradition, so thebar won’t lose its SMU tradition. According to McKinnon, ifthe bar is not opened in 6 months it will probably be the end of alegacy.

“It’s like a comfortable pair of shoes. It’sbeen here for so long, you know what to expect, and you always seethe same employees. I think that part will be difficult,”said McKinnon.

However, both McKinnon and Shriver hope SMU students understandthat wherever they move it won’t be the same, but they mustmove on. But, they want everyone to enjoy the time they have leftat the original Green Elephant.

“It’s seems as though more than a bar is being lost.The Pink Rhinoceros [a nickname for the Elephant] has been an SMUrecreational destination for years. Sitting on the patio withfamily and friends will be missed by many SMU students, “said senior Sutton Connelly.

And no matter where they re-locate, one thing is for certain thename will remain the Green Elephant or the “Elephant”for those fortunate to experience its first home.

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