There was a time before ESPN turned college football players into on-campus gods-among-men that it was fairly easy to get to know WVU players in a social atmosphere. And if you wanted to improve your chances of fraternizing with guys that wore the old Gold and Blue on Saturdays in the mid-to-late 1980’s, your best bet would have been to head over to the Old Gold and Blue bar and restaurant located at # 1 Beechurst Avenue.
WHERE DAD MET HIS GIRL was on the front window.
The story goes that after owner Lou Scotchel bought the place in 1983, standout Mountaineer senior safety Tim Agee (eventual honorable mention defensive back on the All-Century Mountaineer Football Team) came into the building during renovations and offered his help in exchange for some friendly service once the place opened. The two hit it off, and a partnership of Mountaineers and the Gold and Blue Restaurant was formed. Lou ran the place with his family, and Agee promised a herd of new Mountaineer family patrons.
Soon, Agee, along with fellow Mountaineers like Robbie Bennett, Andre Gists, Mark Raugh, Jeff Hostetler, Rich Hollins, Bill Legg,Chris Pecan and even a quiet young man with a noticeable intensity named Rich Rodriguez, could be seen down at the Gold and Blue on most social evenings. Eventually, they helped to set up the menu with sandwiches like the “Mighty Mountaineer”, a concoction of steak,ham, american cheese and provolone cheese with lettuce, tomato,& thousand island dressing on a kaiser bun..
The players that were of age joined in post-game parties at the restaurant, where a standing rule was that the owner would provide the first two kegs on the house. (Which, in light of how much beer was actually consumed, represented more of an appetizer than anything.) Each member of the Mountaineer Football Team was even given their own 32-oz “tanker” mug with their name and number, which were mostly stored right there at the bar. The mugs themselves were a prize for the Mountaineers upon graduation, where tearful eyes watched these young athletes go on with their lives.
It was a fun time to be a Mountaineer, or a Mountaineer fan, wherever you may have been.
The football team was in the midst of a resurgence on the national scene, a result of Don Nehlen’s arrival as head coach in 1980. A string of successful seasons culminated in the 11-1 1988 dream season that saw the Mountaineers play for a national championship. The city of Morgantown was abuzz with Mountaineer fever, and the place to catch it was at the Gold and Blue, with fans and players fraternizing in ways that are hard to imagine these days.
The Gold and Blue then moved to Westover,just accross the Mon. river to 417 Holland Ave. do to a buy-out of the property where the restaurant was housed for all most 50 years.
Then Lou and Kathy purchased 341 South University Ave where there was an addition to the name. KATHY and LOU’S Gold and Blue Restaurant.
But times changed and players changed with it, and pretty soon the Agees and the Bennetts were gone, Dave Oblak # 55 came by to wish them well on his way out of town .
Replaced with new players adhering to Coach Don Nehlen’s admonishments to stay away from the “party bar.”
Eventually, the State of West Virginia claimed the property of the Gold and Blue in eminent domain proceedings to expand South University Avenue, and Lou,Kathy and family opened up a new restaurant in Sabraton under a new name, Classics.
To this day, Classics (now under the name Classics 3) stands in Sabraton as a shrine to memorable times in Mountaineer history. The sandwiches coined by Mountaineers still remain on the menu, and the restaurant and bar are still run by Lou and family as one of the very few family owned establishments in the Morgantown area. Lou Jr. runs the bar now, fitting because it was Robbie Bennett, honorable mention tight end on the All-Century Mountaineer Football Team, who gave him his first taste of beer in the old days.
A casual observer might wander into the place and wonder where the owner bought such priceless Mountaineer memorabilia, from a signed Sam Huff picture to signed pictures of many of the Mountaineer greats from bygone eras. But when you’ve been a part of Mountaineer lore, such memorabilia is just a scrapbook of your own memories.
And if that casual observer wandered in there on the right day, he might hear Lou Sr.’s stories of couch burnings in 1959, all-time Mountaineer greats as college kids having a good time, and even a tale or two about our current all-everything head coach.
Some things change in Morgantown, but some things stay the same.