The cool ‘Aunt’
When Bobcats think of Fridays, they think of Aunchie’s. And when they think Aunchie’s, they think themes.
At least that’s what senior political science major Chanele Davis thinks.
“Aunchie’s is the best part about senior year. No other nightlife spot can compare to Friday night Aunchie’s,” Davis said.
Aunt Chilada’s, or “Aunchie’s,” neighbors Quinnipiac, just a short drive down Whitney Avenue. The Tex-Mex hotspot has made a name for itself as the place to be for Quinnipiac seniors and older juniors on Friday nights. However, students don’t go for the food. They go for the lively atmosphere, sense of community and weekly themes.
“I have been to other parties with themes (not at clubs), but nothing beats Aunchie’s,” Davis said. “I go almost every weekend unless I have a prior engagement.”
However, many Bobcats are unaware of th
e process behind the parties.
Lamar Brunson has worked at Aunchie’s for nearly 11 years and takes pride in the venue’s longstanding popularity among Quinnipiac juniors and seniors.
“Friday Nights were started about 14 years ago. The original college night started around 18-20 years ago and used to be during the week or Tuesday or Wednesday night,” Brunson said. “The restaurant hired a then Quinnipiac senior to promote the night around campus and bartend, as well to bring in familiar faces.”
As promotion manager, Brunson is responsible for tending to the needs of each weekly event, including DJing, bartending, security and organizing giveaways, contests and, of course, selecting themes.
“Usually at the beginning of the first semester, I ask the promoters that I hire and the other Aunt Chilada’s staff that attend Quinnipiac what themes they would like to possibly do. Those themes get added to the new ideas list,” Brunson said. “I turn to the students that I am in contact with or that work at the establishment for new ideas.”
Students often have several favorite themes that they look forward to each year.
“My favorite themes have been toga night and ‘90s night,” Davis said.
According to Brunson, some yearly themes include Labor Day Luau, CountryFest, Twins, Pajama, Mardi Gras, Ugly Sweater, SantaCon, Oktoberfest and Bagels and Booze.
However, not every theme has been successful. Brunson recounts a stop light-themed party, where attendees wore red, green or yellow to imply their relationship status.
“A few students looked at it in the wrong way and thought that we were promoting aggressive behavior towards girls wearing green when that has never been the case in the many years we had done it in the past,” Brunson said.
Aside from this incident, Brunson does not recall any controversy over a theme. While no others have created conflict, some themes have not sparked the interest of students.
“One year I did a ‘Aunchies Black’ where I changed all the light bulbs in the upstairs to blacklights and told everyone to wear neon colors. It was a hassle for change it all out, and a lot of people didn’t participate. Lesson learned,” Brunson said.
Bobcats have proved their loyalty to Aunchie’s, despite any flops. Davis believes that people like Brunson who work tirelessly to execute these weekly gatherings have set themselves apart from other frequented locations.
“I believe they put on themes to differentiate themselves from other Quinnipiac nightlife hotspots,” Davis said.
This enthusiasm for their jobs is shown by their participation in themed events.
“I used to go all out for every theme. Now I tend to dress up a little to go along with the theme,” Brunson said. “I am there every week, so the students get to know myself and the other staff members really well. And anytime someone reaches out for a donation or fundraising opportunity, we are always there to help out as much as we can.”
Much of Aunchie’s success in the Qunnipiac community can be accredited to its exclusivity to 21-year-olds and older, as opposed to places like Toad’s Place which allow 18-year-olds. Because of this, many students become regulars each year.
“Aunt Chilada’s has a lot of hype behind it. It’s the place everyone wants to go to once they turn 21 because they know how strict we are. So once they come that first time, I think we have them hooked, and they continue to come weekly,” Brunson said.
Each week the theme for Friday night is announced on an event page on Facebook, as well as in the Aunchie’s Facebook group.
Brunson says he plans to continue Friday night events for as long can he can. He prides himself on providing Quinnipiac students with a safe and fun Friday night spot for years to come. He believes that the restaurant’s relations with the university have always been positive, and he has no plans of ending them now.
“I love working at Aunchie’s. To be involved with such a staple in the social lives of QU seniors is amazing,” Brunson said. “I look forward to Friday nights just as much as the students do, and I’ve been at it for 11 years. Year in and year out, the classes and kids change but the atmosphere doesn’t. It is still the place to be every Friday night.”