RALEIGH, N.C. — On Thursday, the University of North Carolina System had a message for students this fall: “Get vaccinated or get tested regularly.” That message may impact who is allowed at The Players' Retreat, a well-known restaurant and bar near campus.


What You Need To Know

A popular restaurant and bar near N.C. State is requiring proof of vaccination to go inside

The owner may stop serving unvaccinated people once college students return this fall

The University of North Carolina System is mandating masks and says students will need to get tested regularly if they are not vaccinated


If you visit The Players' Retreat and show proof of vaccination, you’ll be entered into their system and given a button that says “I’m vaxxed.” They’ve already given out more than 7,000 of those buttons.

“We weren’t sure how it was going to go. I was going to order 500 buttons. I ordered 1,000 and we gave those out in nine hours,” said Gus Gusler, owner of The Players’ Retreat. “People come here and say, ‘we’ve never been in a restaurant before and we’re coming because of what you’re doing.’ Our business is up right at 9% over the same time period two years ago before the pandemic.”

Gusler says he decided to only allow vaccinated people inside because his wife and some staff have underlying health issues. “We got a lot of really nasty emails and posts on different websites about us saying we were setting up the ‘first system of medical apartheid,’” Gusler said.

They’re still serving unvaccinated people outside, but Gusler says they may stop serving unvaccinated people all together, partially due to how close they are to N.C. State’s campus.

“The universities, at least the public universities, are not requiring it, which they should for all kids to be vaccinated. We’re sitting across from 40 to 50 thousand students who, I’m sure, half of them haven’t been vaccinated, so we’re going to protect our team and guests here,” Gusler said. "We're just not going to back down. I'm sorry. You need to get vaccinated."

As for fake vaccine cards, Gusler says there was an instance where a now former employee showed them a fake card and got caught. According to the FBI, it is illegal to use a fake vaccine card and you can face a fine or up to five years in jail.