The War Eagle Supper Club was a staple in Auburn for decades. Generations of Auburn University students gathered at the popular night spot for over 70 years to make memories that, for some, would last a lifetime, and for others, they wouldn't recall the next day.
Although the bar closed in 2015, a piece of its history remains. The "shot bus," as many remember it, is now parked in Mobile.
John Brandt became part owner of the War Eagle Supper Club in the mid-80s. Brandt told 1819 News it was apparent that the bar needed a way to get its patrons back to their apartments and trailers safely.
"Auburn did not have a 24-hour taxi service," Brandt said. "We were the only thing opened late at night and so, the cops saw everybody leaving after we closed and they knew they were more than likely coming from the club. So, they started giving DUIs out. I mean, I was losing customers."
So, the War Eagle Supper Club owners came together and invested in a used 1977 school bus from Montgomery. They painted the bus, and from then on, it has been one of the most iconic elements of Auburn University student life.
"Some of the things that happened on that bus, there is no telling," Brandt said. "It definitely got interesting and loud. You can imagine driving around and everybody yelling, 'turn left, here! Turn right, here! And I don't even know how many people got sick on that bus."
Before long, they realized a 66-passenger bus was a little too much to navigate apartment complexes, so they bought a shorter bus and parked the big War Eagle Supper Club bus behind the club.
"We had a patio and a basketball goal and one day we were out there playing basketball, and I kind of eyeballed the bus sitting there and I said, 'You know, that bus would fit right here," Brandt remembered of the moment he realized the bus had a higher calling. "And I paid an employee $100 to get it started and he did. Of course, it had no brakes, so I told him to pull it up to an oak tree and that's where it sat for the rest of the time until we closed in 2015."
The bus was not parked there for looks. Brandt got creative and turned it into a bar for patrons to enjoy.
"Everybody loves that bus," Brandt added. "Before we closed, we even had parents and sometimes grandparents bringing their kids just to take pictures with their kids in it. And inside the bus, there's no telling how many names and graffiti. There is no telling and we just let it happen."
Bar patrons enjoyed heading outside after dancing or listening to music. The shot bus was so busy at times, it had to be staffed with two bartenders to keep up with demand.
Brandt said after the War Eagle Supper Club shut down, everything on the property was sold, including doors and even pieces of the wall from the building. The fence outside, the marquee sign, and, of course, the big bus were also sold.
Jim and Woody Walker came to Auburn to get the bus and brought it to Mobile, according to Brandt. It was parked behind the OK Bicycle Shop for years, where patrons there said the Walkers allowed them to check it out whenever they wanted.
The nostalgic symbol of Tiger pride being in lower Alabama gave fans an opportunity to reminisce and re-live their Auburn days in Mobile. Many were delighted to have a little piece of AU history closer to home. But when the OK Bicycle Shop closed and the building sold, Brandt told 1819 News the bus was pulled out onto the street to be relocated. However, before that could happen, it was impounded.
Before the bus was towed away, Michael Garber found it on the streets in Mobile.
Brandt said he has been in touch with the Walkers and believes they plan to get the bus out of impound soon.
Whatever the future holds for the "shot bus," Brandt said he is thankful it has been taken care of since it left the iconic War Eagle Supper Club. He said he is sure anyone who gets it next will also put in effort to make sure others can enjoy this beloved piece of Auburn history.
"I promise you that bus is in way better shape now than it was when the Walkers bought it," Brandt said. "And there are plenty of people that come forward and want to do something with it."
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