If your billiards skills are on par with those of Tom Cruise a la The Color of Money, then you probably won’t be caught dead in the small-time venues that Court Street has to offer. For the rest of us, Court Street is more than accommodating for some casual billiards. No matter your skill level, the uptown bars provide a great atmosphere to shoot pool with friends. The entries aren’t ranked in any particular order as they all have their pros and cons, but they all qualify as the best places to shoot pool on Court Street.
Lucky’s is a prime venue to shoot pool uptown. With relatively new tables and equipment, Lucky’s Tavern offers a relaxed atmosphere for pool players. With two tables, it’s easy to find one available in the evening. The tables themselves are also unique due to their red felt, and the lighting is a lot brighter than most of the other bars uptown. Just a word of warning: it is nearly impossible to play at Lucky’s on Wednesday nights among the throngs of thirsty patrons that the weekly “liquor pitcher” promotion draws.
The College Inn is one of the largest and most popular bars uptown. These reasons are precisely why the C.I. is a great place to play pool. The spacious bar features two tables upstairs and another in the basement (only open on weekends). The C.I. is great for those hoping to avoid the crowds and sneak in a few games on a weeknight. Prior to Thursday night on most weeks, the C.I. is usually pretty barren before 9 p.m. When the bar is not crowded, the pool area at the rear of the building offers patrons plenty of room and relative privacy.
Usually known as a destination for ping pong, the Pigskin is also a great destination for a round of pool. With a cavernous amount of space to work with, the Pigskin’s lone pool table offers tremendous maneuverability for those looking to escape the semi-cramped conditions that can be found at other bars. As an added bonus, the Pigskin’s table features some of the nicest felting to be found in Athens. Due to these luxuries however, the ‘Skin’s table is a coveted treasure for pool enthusiasts and can be hard to secure during peak hours.
Pawpurr’s offers two tables with plenty of space to maneuver your cue stick. With a table at each end of the bar, there is always plenty of space. That is one of the reasons David York cited for Pawpurr’s being his favorite bar to shoot pool in Athens.
“Pawpurr’s is my favorite bar to play pool. It’s actually just my favorite bar in general. It’s really the only bar I like to play pool at,” says York, a recent OU grad.
Sticking true to the name, a round of pool at Pawpurr’s costs less than most other bars. While the going rate is usually seventy-five cents at most other places, a game only costs two quarters at Pawpurr’s.
Rounding out the list is The Overhang, one of the newer and nicer bars on Court Street. The Overhang boasts a tandem of new and well-maintained tables for its patrons. Also, the pool tables have a clear view of the big screen televisions behind the bar, perfect for those wishing to catch a game while enjoying a few rounds of pool. For those accustomed to the convention of placing a quarter on the table to reserve the next game, be warned. The Overhang utilizes a chalkboard where patrons add their names to a queue to secure a spot on the table.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of bars with pool tables uptown, it can be seen as a guide to finding the best spot to shoot a few casual games. Armed with this knowledge, go forth and tread water in a sea swimming with pool sharks.
Later that day, many students and parents flocked from the rained-out game and crowd-flooded uptown to attend Second City’s skit, improvisational comedy show, which kicked off at 8 p.m. in The Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.
The comedy troupe, which past members include Tina Fey, Steve Carrell and many other accomplished actors, performed for nearly two and a half hours, touching on and satirizing topics such as generational difference, romantic tension and, appropriately, parenting.
“It was a really great show,” Calvin Haines, a sophomore studying chemical engineering who was accompanied by his parents, said. “They paced the jokes very well and the skits were creative.”
Following the show, many students and parents headed down Court Street to the bars, with several establishments garnering sizable crowds outside waiting to get in.
But aside from scheduled events and the bars, some students chose to show their parents what day-to-day life in Athens is like.
“(My parents and I) ate at Union Street Diner, then went and shopped at a few bookstores, and I showed them around Ping,” Gianna Montague, a sophomore studying biology, said. “They had a lot of fun!”
The weekend most likely also included supply runs to Walmart, long waits at Casa Nueva, and many, many family portraits uploaded to Instagram.
As you write your college essays and ask your teachers for college recommendations, you picture what your life will be like. You picture your classes, your new friend group and your living arrangements. Once you pick where you want to go to school you have this crazy idea of what it is going to be like. You watch college movies and dream of your first semester, but you really have no idea what is actually ahead of you.
“So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love.” At Ohio University, this quote can be found on College Gate as you walk into College Green. This quote explains our college experience in one sentence. We grow with this university every day. Whether it is gaining knowledge through our classes, wisdom through our experiences or love through our relationships, we are growing every day. We are not the same people the first day of our freshman year as we are the last day of our senior year. Ohio University changes us, but is it really Ohio University that changes us or is it just the time period in our lives?
Every year a new group of students joins in to experience the madness, the wonder and the beauty that is Ohio University. However, what these students don’t know is that they are about to be taken on the wildest ride of their life. Just as the seasons change, every semester brings something new. But how does Ohio University change us? Is it just “the college experience” or is it something bigger than that?
Theresa Ianni, a strategic communication major and 2014 graduate of Ohio University, thought she was going to get involved, go to every football game and join a sorority when she went away to college. However, unlike many other OU students, Ianni was not in love with OU before coming here.
“It wasn’t my top choice, but it was the best choice since I got accepted to Scripps,” said Ianni. “I wanted to attend Ohio State University. I went to an all girls high school, so the idea of a Big Ten school (football games, tailgating, etc.) was really appealing. However, I was extremely excited to start college and stayed optimistic because I had tons of alumni and current students telling me how amazing OU actually is.”
As soon as Ianni started school at OU she fell in love with the campus and knew she was in the right place. She didn’t go to every football game and didn’t join a sorority, but she was right in her assumption that she would get involved. Coming to OU alone, she didn’t realize how easy it would be to make friends. Within her first quarter of attending OU, she knew that she was going to have a busy, eventful and exciting four years.
Since her freshman year she has grown immensely, both personally and professionally. “I remember being terrified to public speak freshman year of college, and now I’m presenting at companywide meetings and leading my superiors in different groups,” said Ianni. “Socially, I see myself adapting to situations easier than I used to be able to. I’ve grown fond of putting myself in situations where I don’t know anyone. Freshman year, I never went anywhere without a friend.”
You can now find Ianni working as a media relations specialist at Walker Sands in Chicago. She was hired in September 2014 after completing a post-grad internship with Walker Sands over the summer. The biggest change for her was “going out” during the week. “Weekends are the same. I don’t go out as much as I did on weekdays, but yeah I still have no money and no dignity at the end of the weekend.”
During Ianni’s four years at Ohio University OU did nothing but improve as a university, she said. “The website, marketing strategies, and even a bit of the vision evolved and I think that’s great. OU demonstrated throughout my four years that students were the priority,” said Ianni. “I don’t know if that changed over my four years, but it was very evident. Court Street was perfect all four years, but I definitely feel like it changed. More food establishments moved in and really showed that the college town has room to grow. The bars got both less and more classy but all in all it’s still the amazing street it always was.”
Mark Wilcox, a 1984 graduate of Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, said his time at OU bridged the years between his childhood and adulthood. “I discovered real academics, learned to interact with people from different backgrounds, made great friends learned how to manage time and during those four years grew into an adult.” Wilcox reminisced about his years at OU and said that he used to go jogging with the men in his fraternity (Delta Tau Delta) and they would end with Jeff Hill. Although he said he could never do this now, he thought it built character and really kept him in shape.
Some things that changed at OU were that Jeff Hall used to be a freshman all-girls dorm and that the drinking age was 18 when he was in school. Wilcox stated that the bars were crazy back then because everyone could be there legally. He has so many great memories, including Halloween, uptown bar parties at The Phase (now Pawpurrs) and CI, homecoming parades, football games, Stroud’s Run and hitting golf balls off the back porch of the Delt house (now the Athletes in Action house next to Alpha Gamma Delta) over Jeff Hall. Wilcox is now a retired Navy commander and currently an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton.
Mark Kuhar graduated from Ohio University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in creative writing. He is the editor of Rock Products and Cement Americas magazine. When asked how his experience at OU shaped where he is now, Kuhar said, “At OU, I was exposed to wide variety of different people from all over the world, which was a far cry from the narrow demographic I grew up around in the rural Hinckley, Ohio, of the 1970s. I made it a point to get a well-rounded education, so every class I took offered me something new, something memorable and some experience I was able to tuck away for future reference. All of this has served me well in a career in business journalism that often requires critical thinking, open-mindedness and personal interaction with people from all walks of life.”
Without Ohio University, Nicole Spears thinks she would be a different person. “OU pushed me to be a more tolerant, more open-minded person while also helping me break out of my shell. I left knowing how to appreciate the little things in life, and learning how important it could be to cherish the daily happenings and ritual you grow accustomed to,” said Spears. “Academically, I learned the importance of a holistic approach and gained the confidence that my unique career path had to offer me.” Spears graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor of science in journalism and a major in strategic communication in 2014. She is currently working at Launch Squad in New York City as an account associate with tech startups and a Brit + Co. freelance editor.
Ianni agreed with Spears and said being a Bobcat makes you humble, yet proud, passionate and determined. She thinks part of this is due to the people she was surrounded by. “These people were unlike any other university. They motivated me to be the best I could be in all aspects. Whether it was PR, being on the executive board of organizations, or even drinking!”
Ianni said that her biggest motivator was her boss at Ohio University Intramural Sports, Nick Brigati. “He always challenged me to think one step ahead of my plans, and helped me step out of my comfort zone with new opportunities,” said Ianni. “For example, he made me attend flag football’s officiating workshop. I’ve never done anything like that before, so it was terrifying. But the workshop taught me a lot about managing others and poise.”
“I feel like sometimes OU is so underrated as far as education goes, and that’s not fair. I know people who have done amazing things, and I know I got a great education. It’s all about what you make of it,” said Ianni. “I want to say that coming back for homecoming this year, it felt like nothing changed. I still felt at home, and I think I was will at OU. That’s the magic of Athens.”
Even though Ohio University may be changing physically and culturally, it is all about what you make it. The magic of Athens is the people and the experiences you have. No other school has the students Ohio University has and that is special. However, this is also what makes other universities unique too. To be honest your college experience at Ohio University won’t be that unique. Where you tell people you went to drink and the places that you went will be unique, but the overall experience of college isn’t. Every university’s purpose is to develop their students professionally and socially and to give them an excellent education. While not every university student may be as passionate about their school as Ohio University students are, we all have the same experiences. By making Ohio University your hOUme, you allow yourself to be opened up to new experiences and to let yourself change. Finding the person that will be your mentor and finding your group of friends is important no matter where you go. Cherish your experiences and remember that OU is unique for its location, its students and its specific memories.
Marisa Fiore is a junior majoring in strategic communication with a focus in public relations, minoring in business administration and is obtaining a global leadership certificate and a social media certificate at Ohio University. Her passions include travel, competitive Irish dance and writing. Visit www.marisafiore.com or follow her on Twitter @MarisaFiore1 to connect with Marisa.
A man once told me I had to stop looking at the past if I ever wanted to get ahead in life. I was in the Campus Sundry, buying God knows what (I’ve been through phases) and watching the 2010 Winter Olympics with the owner, Paul Abraham. I don’t know why I remember that moment so vividly. It was generic advice, admittedly, and there were countless other life lessons I learned from him. The Sundry was where my friends stopped before heading home after a night out partying. He had the cheapest tobacco in town and a friendly dog he called Star.
Abraham died in 2011, and with him The Campus Sundry died too. One of the best parts of the Athens night life is the adventure home, and for me that almost always included a stop at The Sundry. Now it’s gone; Athens has moved on without it and another store is left to deal with my late-night alter-ego.
The empty shell that was once my favorite store was heavily damaged recently in a fire that affected several businesses on Union Street, indefinitely closing another Athens staple: The Union Bar and Grill. It was the place where I had my first … college experience. Now I may never go there again. I could never have imagined this town without those places.
The Union and The Sundry got me thinking. Athens is a historic town with an old and great university. There had to be other places that closed down that defined the Athens experience for past students, only to be replaced with establishments that define mine.
At the top of Morton Hill there used to be an empty building next to the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was boarded up, but it did house a functioning Chase ATM on the side until it was torn down my sophomore year. That building was once known as The Oasis, and it was a deli/convenience store combo that was on campus for over a century.
The Oasis was for many students the same thing that The Sundry was for me, the last stop before home. It suffered a similar fate. With the passing of owner John Farley in 2002, The Oasis was sold to Ohio University, which closed it only four years later. Erin Councilman, a 1999 alumna and former Oasis employee, said the school didn’t want The Oasis to compete with the new Baker University Center.
“There was talk of doing various things with the building,” she said. “My favorite was the organic grocery store. What are students going to do with an on-campus organic grocery store? Then, as I recall, asbestos was found in the attic, and asbestos abatement would have cost much more than the building was worth to save, so we were left with the green space we have today.”
According to Councilman, The Oasis had many different functions over the years.
“The Oasis used to be the Greyhound bus depot in addition to being its wacky little restaurant/snack bar self,” she said. “That made for some god-awful traffic jams on Morton Hill. Before the Oasis was a restaurant, it was a Laundromat and dry cleaner. It was run by the same family, the Farleys. It changed from a cleaning place to a restaurant in the ’60s when kids no longer wore clothes that needed dry cleaning.”
Another place that defined the “Athens experience” for Councilman was a place on Court Street called The Story Shop.
“The place was amazing,” she said. “There were stacks and stacks of books piled clear to the ceiling, and always some friendly foster cats from the Athens County Humane Society to help you make your selection.”
The cats reminded Councilman of home, which is the same feeling I always got when visiting Abraham’s dog at The Sundry.
“As a homesick freshman who missed my cats, I would go in there and look at books and hang out with a cat for hours,” she said.
The owners of The Story Shop retired and moved back to their home state of Indiana, where they still run The Story Shop albeit online. The space it occupied on Court Street became The Import House.
Academics aside, Athens has always been notorious as a party school. Perhaps the most noticeable changes over the years have come to the bar scene. The list of defunct bars in Athens is extensive, and many of them share the same Athens flavor as most of the current establishments.
For instance, Jackie O’s has had a beer on tap called O’Hooley’s Irish Stout. That’s a shout-out to the bar’s former name: O’Hooley’s Irish Pub, which operated similarly to Jackie O’s as a popular local brewpub. Next to O’Hooley’s was a place known as Skipper’s, which also was purchased by Jackie O’s.
A big name in the Athens music scene in the ’70s and early ’80s was a bar called Swanky’s, which hosted Bruce Springsteen the night before he played in Memorial Auditorium during his Born to Run tour. According to Jessica Cyders of the Athens County Historical Society, Swanky’s closed in the early ’80s after the owner, Ivan Faske, was arrested on drug charges. Swanky’s later caught fire, setting an unfortunate trend, and the space is now occupied by CVS Pharmacy.
Many Ohio University students would cherish the opportunity to live in a dorm building with its own bar. Bromley Hall used to have a bar, however that was before the University purchased the building, known as the College Inn at the time. The bar was called The Nickelodeon, but like The Oasis it fell victim to closure after OU purchased it.
One of the more recent changes to the bar scene is the transformation of The Junction. It was still open when I started college and was on the list of bars my friends and I could get into despite being under 21. You could get in there with seemingly any ID card, and I may have even used a jack of spades once. The Junction was known for what was called “Quad-Night,” where they doubled the amount of alcohol in their mixed drinks. That special was apparently started by former XFL president Basil DeVito way back in 1975. The Junction was sold, renovated and renamed The J Bar after it was sold in 2011 to Dave Cornwall.
Perhaps the most notorious of all drink specials in Athens was 25-cent beer night at Hanger-5. The quarter beer was started by owner Bruce Richmond and current Christian Moerlein Brewing Company owner Greg Hardman. On the first night of the special, Hardman claims Hanger-5 sold 60 kegs of beer.
Jerry Schetterer, a 1990 alumnus, said Hanger-5 was an actual hangar at some point, which made it rather large compared to most other bars. However, that didn’t mean that space wasn’t an issue.
“There were nights where you couldn’t move because there were so many people,” he said. “They stated having beer trucks outside because they couldn’t serve everyone at the bar inside.”
Although it was a very popular bar, Schetterer said Hanger-5 had more than just space problems.
“I remember there was some kind of spray insulation on the rafters, and it would occasionally fall into your beer.”
There’s a great website called athensohiobars.com that keeps a list of the defunct bars. Sadly, that list will only get longer. One day, many years from now, another Ohio University student will load up on coffee the same as I did and write a story similar to this one. The only difference will be that it will include my current favorite hangout spots.
Garrett Austin Greene is a senior studying news and information in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He hopes to cover news one day, perhaps even internationally. He was raised on a farm in Smithfield, Ohio and he’s addicted to caffeine, sports and the outdoors.
There’s no shortage of bars in Athens, Ohio. In about a one-mile radius, you’ll find nearly 20 bars, all seeking your attention and wanting to serve you a drink.
Though some of the bar managers on Court Street said there isn’t a threat to compete with other bars, they all utilize social media to some capacity to popularize their drink specials and keep people coming back.
Below is a list of every bar in Athens city, along with links to each of their social media pages. While every bar has a Facebook page, the only bars that don’t have a Twitter account are the Cat’s Eye, Cat’s Den, and Smiling Skull Saloon.
For a business looking to thrive, it doesn’t get much better than Athens, Ohio. The college-town vibe and young demographic make the area a hotspot for any type of restaurant or business looking to make a dent in the local economy.
But instead of diversifying the town with various establishments, nearly 20 bars and pubs are squeezed into the 1-mile radius of Athens’s Uptown. For some of the rowdier students at Ohio University, the seemingly endless bar options is a positive. But for some local officials and residents, a city with potential growth is limiting itself to one type of establishment.
Athens City Councilman Kent Butler, D-First Ward, said he often hears concerns from local residents about the number of bars on Court Street, adding that many often push for a diversification of businesses.
“I’ve heard people with families and children say they avoid Court Street at certain times because of the atmosphere,” Butler said. “When I went to school here, Court Street had a more friendly feel; it was Smalltown, USA. That was largely what attracted people here.”
Though the heavy bar scene might inhibit families and non-students in Athens from enjoying some of what the city has to offer, Butler said the number of bars isn’t the issue. The issue is the fact that alcohol revenues go to the state, not Athens’ local government. So in a city with a large number of bars, Athens is making money only from general taxes the bar owners pay, not from total revenue.
“We have a binge-drinking culture just like any other college town,” Butler said. “If (Athens) were to have a tax on alcohol, then we would be able to empower the resources in the community to better deal with the behaviors and after-effects of drinking.”
Knowing that college communities were suffering economically, Gov. John Kasich used to send college towns in Ohio impact fees upwards of $50,000, but Butler said Athens now receives about $20,000 each year.
“We spend about $16,000 on Halloween alone for the extra law enforcement and precautions to make sure it’s a safe event. That’s not including all the fests and events the rest of the year,” Butler said. “We’re woefully underfunded right now.”
An even larger problem: Butler said Athens has surpassed the maximum amount of liquor licenses it’s allowed to give to businesses.
“The State Liquor Control issues the permits and they tell you how many you’re allowed to have in a community, so I don’t know why we’re above the limit when they issue them,” Butler said.
According to the Ohio Department of Commerce’s web database, 86 liquor permits have been issued to businesses on Court Street since 1991. Eleven requests have been rejected. Five requests are pending — three of which are for Chipotle Mexican Grill.
From OU’s standpoint, a school notoriously ranked among the top party schools in the country, one could argue that a heavy bar scene fuels the fire and promotes a drinking culture.
Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi acknowledged the idea, saying he would like to see a better balance between bars, restaurants, and other types of shops.
“There is strong evidence to support that environmental factors such as the density of bars and alcohol-related establishments contribute to a high-risk drinking culture,” Lombardi said in an email. “I think a good balance between the various types of establishments would have a positive impact on some of the negative outcomes that we see from high-risk behavior.”
According to the Ohio University Police Department’s 2014 Clery Report, which details crime statistics at OU and its branch campuses annually, there were 183 liquor law arrests on OU’s Athens campus in 2013. There were also 426 disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations in the same year. However, those numbers are not limited to just OU students.
The Ohio Revised Code states that one ground for refusal to issue a liquor permit is “that the number of permits already existent in the neighborhood is such that the issuance or transfer of location of a permit would be detrimental to and substantially interfere with the morals, safety, or welfare of the public.” With more than 500 liquor-related violations, the lines for what makes issuing a permit “detrimental” are unclear.
Despite the number of alcohol-related arrests among students, Butler and Lombardi don’t support a “no bars” approach to the city.
“Completing the bar shuffle was a right of passage,” said Butler, a 1992 OU alumnus.
Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl also wants to see fewer bars in the city, but argued that establishments that serve alcohol have the best shot at staying in business.
“Hardware stores don’t come in and agricultural feed stores won’t come either, so what would you want to replace (the bars) with and who would shop there? It’s nice to say we want to have a Macy’s or high-end retail stores, but who would shop there?” Wiehl said. “Even restaurants like Salaam or Fluff get liquor licenses to get more people to come.”
Since there’s such a demand for alcohol in a city full of college students — more than 22,000 students in Athens during the 2014 academic year, according to OU’s website — some bar managers say they never feel threatened or feel the need to compete with other bars.
“There’s never really any animosity between the bars,” said Jenny Alu, bar manager at The Pigskin Bar & Grille. “We like to get business, but its not one of those things where none of (the other bartenders) hang out or are mean to each other.”
Jesse Stowe, bar manager at Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery, said they don’t compete with other bars either because “It’s all unique here.”
“We have our own niche because we’re the only place in town that creates our own beer,” he said.
Regardless of the concerns from local residents and the possible negative implications a booming bar scene could have in Athens, the number of bars in Athens won’t be dropping significantly any time soon.
“In the dog-eat-dog world of Court Street. Some things do better than others” Wiehl said. “Eateries with alcohol do the best.”
Xander Zellner is a senior at Ohio University studying journalism. Find him on Twitter at @xanderzellner.
If there’s one department Court Street is not lacking in, it’s bars. Each has a certain je ne sais quoi. To describe these distinct personalities, let’s turn to the television show “Parks and Recreation.” Specifically, if the show’s main characters were to take a road trip from Pawnee to Athens, where would they hang out?
Ron Swanson is not one for social gatherings, especially when it comes to enjoying a drink. So no bar on Court Street is likely to be his cup of tea (or rather, his cup of Lagavulin). Picture this: Ron sitting at the bar, drinking a Scotch (neat) while seven-plus college students invade his space, maybe rub against his face, laugh loudly while trying to get served, and prompt Ron to look extremely displeased. No, Court Street isn’t where this mustached man would spend his time. The best option for Ron would be Zoe on East State Street off Court Street. Zoe is a restaurant first, bar second. Ron would ask for a secluded table, order a large steak (rare), and keep the whisky coming. Court Street and Ron Swanson do not mix.
A great fit for this dark, twisted woman is the Smiling Skull Saloon. The Skull is dark and full of townies and bikers whom April would love to observe and interact with. The Skull’s West Union Street location is a bit off the beaten path, as is April. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, so avoiding social interaction is easy. You don’t have to worry about peppy, loud college students here. A popular opinion among such students is that the Skull plays host to “weird people” and the name of the bar is often associated with a facial grimace and the phrase, “It’s so creepy!” It is definitely not on a party-hungry student’s list of places to hear the latest sugar-coated teeny-bopper hit. There’s a lot of black clothing, beanies, and you may or may not find discarded extras of drugs on the top of the toilet in the bathroom. The Skull is the perfect place for Ms. Ludgate.
With its hipster vibe and reputation for hosting local bands, The Union Bar and Grill was the best bar for Andy. His band, MouseRat, could have played there and been a huge hit. It would have been a match made in heaven. But unfortunately the November fire derailed this option. (R.I.P. Union. until you rise again). Consequently, some recalculating is needed to determine Andy’s best match. A close second to Union is Casa Nueva Cantina and Restaurant. Casa hosts live bands but in a much calmer environment. It’s the bar to go to to sit back and enjoy your beer with friends and just hang out.
Side note: Andy Dwyer likes to jump out of/over things, so if he is sans band and in that particular mood, then Stephen’s On Court would be the bar for him. Their bottom bar has a window that is known for getting jumped out of. I would be lying if I said I didn’t know this from personal experience.
Considering Tom was part-owner of a club called the Snakehole Lounge, Court Street is a fantastic fit for him. There are so many options. But the right combination of sleazy, yet faux-VIP is Courtside Sports Bar. The two bar stations and outside area of Courtside give it that “high-end” feel that’s perfect for Tom. Courtside plays host to Ohio University athletes so there’s a high possibility of running into a campus celebrity. Tom Haverford is all about local celebrities. It’s the perfect opportunity for him to schmooze. Courtside is one of two bars specifically known for being the bar to go to if you’re underage. (The other being The Crystal, which if you go to the bars in general, you are all too aware.) We have now arrived at the sleazy aspect of Courtside. Courtside is no Snakehole Lounge, but it’s a fine substitute for Tom.
Donna Meagle is too cool for the bars of Court Street. If we had a cigar and wine club, it would be a match made in heaven. Alas, we are not Pawnee, Indiana, and do not have such an establishment. Donna would treat herself to a more expensive bar like J Bar. The bar itself isn’t particularly any classier than the other bars on Court, but it likes to pretend it is by charging more money for its drinks. It is classier than The Crystal, though. But that’s an easy feat. J Bar also has a very aesthetically-pleasing brick wall on its top floor that is nice for taking pictures against. Donna is all about social media, so some pictures with the brick backdrop would do nicely for looking like she’s in a fancier place than she is. Donna probably would just rent that entire top floor of J Bar, if we’re being real.
Leslie Knope loves waffles. Her favorite type of food is breakfast food. “Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?” What goes great with breakfast food? Coffee. What bar has a signature drink that is coffee-based? Tony’s Tavern. Their Hot Nut is a hot shot of coffee and hazelnut liqueur. I’ve never had one myself, and couldn’t bring myself to taste one just for the purpose of this article because I hate both coffee and shots, but I have heard good things, the majority of which come from my roommate, Sarah Bernstein. “You’ve never had a Hot Nut? Are you out of your mind? They’re so good! You’d love them!” Shut up, Sarah. But I can associate a thing or two, and when I think of Leslie Knope, I immediately think of the Hot Nut. There is no other factor in this equation. Leslie Knope would go to Tony’s specifically because of this drink.
Ben is a beer guy, and a bar known for their wide variety of beers is Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery. The bar has 38 beers on draft, so this gives Ben ample opportunity to try a new beer or two because God knows, there has to be a beer out there he enjoys more than Miller Lite. One would hope, anyway. Jackie O’s draws a diverse, friendly crowd that creates a relaxed atmosphere for someone to sit back and enjoy her beer. Jackie O’s also features live bands, but the music is more blues/garage-rock.
Who cares? He’ll ruin everything anyway.
Although Ann has had some great character development, a central theme in her life is her dating situation. It always seems to be her storyline. That being so, Ann would go to Broney’s Alumni Grill during one her dating phases because a large portion of its patrons is the older crowd, which is more of Ann’s niche. Single Ann would go to Broney’s to put herself out there, dating-wise. Even Ann in a relationship would go there with her significant other to mingle with other couples in a calmer environment.
If you take Chris Traeger to any bar, he will — “literally” — find any way to remain positive. Even if he is taken into The Crystal, where it almost always spells like urine and feces, Chris would spin that situation positively. That’s what he does. He loves positivity. But I won’t use that as a fallback. He still deserves a well-thought-out Court Street bar choice. This beautiful man would fit in well at The C.I. It’s heavily populated by Greeks but in a surprisingly harmonious way that you don’t have to worry about being annoyed. It’s an overall happy atmosphere and even though the bar gets a bit crowded, you only have to dance your way through. Chris Traeger dances a mean jig. Dancing and happiness are two qualities The C.I. and Chris have in common.
Hannah Haseman is a strategic communications major in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She spends a startling amount of time watching television shows and movies. Her dream job is to critique those in the entertainment industry through reviews or, more specifically, the bulls-eye section of Entertainment Weekly.
Ask any Bobcat, what makes Court Street unique to Athens and most will reply with the crazy number of bars. There are about 20 bars located in Athens and 13 of them are on Court Street. With so many bars, finding the perfect one with the right atmosphere can be tough. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned veteran, here is a guide to help you find the place to satisfy your late-night drinking.
Lucky’s Sports Tavern, 11 North Court St.
This is the first stop on our Court Street bar shuffle. Students come here every Wednesday for Lucky’s liquor pitcher deals. Spending five bucks on these pitchers is worth every penny. You really get what you pay for. However, this bar is known to be one of toughest to get into. Be prepared to show multiple forms of I.D. at the door because the bouncers don’t mess around. This bar is also famous for being the local Steelers bar so naturally Browns and Bengals fans rarely ever go here.
Cat’s Eye Saloon, 12 North Court S.
Right across from Lucky’s, Cat’s Eye is not the place for underage drinkers. Try to use your fake I.D. at the door and it’s guaranteed to be taken away. The frequent visitors at this bar are mostly Cleveland sports fans. They even have a drink named after the Cleveland Browns. Cat’s Eye offers good prices and has plenty of space to accommodate your social activity. There are plenty of pool tables in this bar and one of the best places to play a game without the fear of jabbing someone because it is too crowded.
Red Brick Tavern, 14 North Court St.
This bar is located next to Cat’s Eye and definitely the place to be during a Bengals or Reds game. Cincinnati fans flock to the bar to watch the games on Sunday afternoons. This bar is also notoriously known as the underage bar on Court Street, which is a huge turnoff for the 21+ crowd. Throughout the week, 18+ can get in through a cover charge of $3. It is pretty narrow inside the bar, which makes it hard to move around on crowded weekends. Red Brick is also known for its Wednesday karaoke night that attracts a decent size crowd.
The C.I., 32 North Court St.
This is definitely the bar everyone tries to make it to during a night out. There is a lot of intermingling between Greeks and GDIs (God Damn Independents), which creates the perfect atmosphere. It gets pretty crowded at the top bar but there is plenty of space in the basement. The bartenders are relaxed and you can count on getting a drink quickly. They have an extensive list of bombs that you can choose from and offer free peanuts during happy hours. If you love the mix of Geek life and GDIs, then go get high at the C.I.
The Crystal, 34 North Court St.
This bar is famous for being the Greek bar on Court Street. If you go here you are bound to wake up with a stamp on your hand that will be impossible to get off. The Crystal has a special place in the Greek community, but chances are if you are a GDI, you are going to hate it. Getting a drink at the bar is nearly impossible unless you know the bartenders. During Homecoming and Greek Week, be prepared to see some crazy costumes from all the socials hosted at this bar. The Crystal is always crowded and the place to be if you are Greek but beware of the bathrooms.
The Pigskin Bar and Grille, 38 North Court St.
This is a popular bar among the 21+ crowd. It’s the best place on Court Street to order food and watch football games. The bar is spacious and has a great vibe on the weekends. This bar attracts a diverse crowd and really has no reputation. It is also stop one in the Bermuda Triangle, which is guaranteed to get you pretty messed up. (The Bermuda Triangle consists of three bars, Pigskin, Pawpurr’s and J Bar, in which you order their signature drinks. You follow this route until you get lost in the Bermuda Triangle.)
Pawpurr’s Bar, 37 North Court St.
This bar is always a good time. During Primetime, 8 p.m.-9 p.m., students flock to this bar to get half-priced drinks. Pawpurr’s also has deals during the week such as 50-cent draft night on Tuesdays and liquor pitchers on Wednesdays. When the bar gets crowded, it is impossible to get served and the bartenders tend to not make strong mixed drinks. If you are a regular, you know who the owner of this bar is because he loves to give out free drinks. This is the second stop on the Bermuda Triangle and students come and go as they please. Overall, this bar has a great mix of social groups.
The Pub, 39 North Court St.
This is one of the most laid-back bars on Court Street. They are known for their giant glasses of beer called Aquariums. This place is not essential to stop at during your evening but a great place to relax and have a nice drink. The negative side is the size; it is pretty small and can get really crowded.
J Bar, 41 North Court Street
Originally this bar was the Junction until the owner of Courtside bought the bar. J Bar still continues their famous Junction Punch. This is a fruity drink that has way too much alcohol in it and is the drink to order on your final stop of the Bermuda Triangle. Their top bar overlooks the rest of the bar and is a great place to hold a social. Many Greeks and athletes come to this bar and it is not home to any under-agers.
The Over Hang, 63 North Court St.
This is a relatively new bar on campus that not a lot of people go to. Many younger students are too scared to go to this bar because it’s nice and intimidating. This bar is a great place to go if you don’t want to see anyone you know. There are a few regulars but overall has a diverse crowd. The Over Hang is the place to go if you want to get drunk off of $10.
Stephen’s, 66 North Court St.
This bar has gained popularity within the last couple of years. Greeks who cannot deal with the stench of Crystal, end up making their way to Stephen’s. Their three bars offer you a chance to get your drink fast. You can find space about anywhere in this bar whether it’s in the basement or by the top two bars. Be sure to watch out when walking down the stairs. They are steep and not ideal for girls wearing heels, especially since this bar hosts a lot of Greek socials and formals.
Courtside Sports Bar, 85 North Court St.
This is the primary bar for Ohio Bobcat athletes and Sigma Pi’s. An evening at Courtside is guaranteed to be a crazy one. It’s impossible to hear what your friends are saying because of the loud rap music. It isn’t unusual to see students dancing on the tables or ordering rounds of shots. The bar attracts a diverse crowd including Greeks, business majors, and grad students. It is known for its outdoor patio area during the summer and a great place to watch a football game. Courtside attracts a big crowd every Wednesday for their 50 cent slice night of their famous pizza.
Broney’s Alumni Grill, 7 West Carpenter St.
Broney’s is the last stop on the Court Street shuffle and one of the nicest bars that make you pay for overpriced drinks. It is one of the most neutral bars on campus because there are a lot of different people who go here. Many international students have started to take over the bar, but there is something for everyone here. Alumni like to go to this bar because of the cleanliness, space, and diversity of drinks. Their patio is great on a nice summer day and a cool place to relax and have their famous champagne slushy.
Angela Keane is a junior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She is involved in Scripps Public Relations Student Society of America, ImPRessions, and Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. She will be interning with the Miss Universe Organization in New York City during Spring semester.
Like any trend that has grown into prominence, the rise of the Athens dance music scene has been nowhere close to an overnight success. From cramped basements raves, small bar events and street fests, its progress has been a long process involving a close-knit community of lifetime residents, alumni and students with the same goals in mind. With the development of their popularity, dance music and DJs will continue to impact the art and nightlife cultures of Athens.
In the past 15-20 years, Athens nightlife has changed in many ways. On both Court and Union streets, new bars have opened while others have expanded. Failing bars have been bought up and turned into T-shirt shops and apartments. Within those alcohol-soaked establishments, themed dance nights have risen and fallen at the hands of the many DJs.
Currently, Athens has three main DJs who have been doing events Uptown for more than 10 years. Each has his own music specialties, popular dance nights and venues that have become home to their parties. They have also witnessed firsthand the many ways Uptown nightlife has changed during their time in Athens.
Aaron “A-Roc” Thomas is one of the scene’s most seasoned veterans, DJing Uptown since he came to Athens as a freshman in 1997. Most of his first experiences DJing Uptown were for frat and sorority socials, where the organizations would rent out a bar space and hire him. Thomas says when he arrived in Athens, most bars didn’t have specialty dance nights or resident DJs.
“A couple of the bars randomly had people playing on their house system. For the most part the bars really started to get into the DJ scene probably around 1998-99 with the creation of Latin Dance Night at The Swindlefish,” says Thomas. (The Swindlefish was originally located where Zoe currently is. The bar moved above the Over Hang’s current location, eventually turning into the Blue Gator and then apartments.) At the time, most bars were only playing music off jukeboxes and CD players.
Once bar owners saw the success of Latin Dance Night, many locations started to hire DJs and have themed dance nights. Thomas chose to stay with The Swindlefish and created one of his most successful dance nights during his time here. Due to the bar catering to live music on weekends, Thomas was given Wednesdays to turn into Hip Hop night. At the time, hip hop and rap weren’t really as mainstream as they are today so most bars never played them, sticking mostly to rock and country. The music, the 50 cent drafts and the way Thomas marketed the event to students helped make The Swindlefish a packed house every Wednesday, consistently reaching its 426 person capacity.
Brandon “B-Funk” Thompson remembers Hip Hop night as being one of his favorite places to go during his college years. The lifelong Athens resident has also been DJing Uptown for years, helping to sustain the electronic music scene present at some local venues. The party he helped create, Dave Rave, has been drawing crowds since its inception at The Union in 2010.
Before the Dave Rave parties, electronic dance music (“EDM”) nights were a rarity on Court and Union. Places like O’Hooley’s (current Jackie O’s) and Mama Einstein’s (current Ski’s Teases) had been throwing electronic dance music nights in the early 2000s, but neither bar sustained these events. One of the only legitimate night clubs, Evolution (above Habibi’s, now apartments), had closed. The parties Thompson started to throw, along with the EDM and DJ boom of 2009, helped rejuvenate the electronic scene Uptown.
Thompson’s parties also helped expose Athens to a different culture. With folk, bluegrass and jam bands taking up most of the Athens music scene, the popularity of the Dave Rave parties helped electronic dance music progress from the basements of house parties. In 2010, Thompson became the first DJ to headline the main stage at the annual Halloween Block Party, where he has performed for the past five years. He also helped Four Loko bring in the Lokoween stage, where student and alumni EDM DJs could play to over 4,000 party goers.
Michael “Barticus” Bart, who moved to Athens in 2001, remembers some of the first dance parties he was exposed to his freshman year. Upon meeting Bart, most wouldn’t expect the tall, goofy 31 year-old to be one of Athens’s best hip hop DJs.
“There was this really fun DJ named Danceable Solutions that threw a party with the same name at The Union. He played a lot of really cool stuff from ’80s synthpop, modern rock and a little bit of hip hop. People would get all dressed up and come out and make it into a big deal.”
When Danceable Solutions graduated, the dance party still had a large following. Bart, along with his friend Ruckus Roboticus, went to The Union and started Dance or Die right off the heels of Danceable Solutions. The two played everything, including hip hop, disco and modern dance music, causing their party to blow up into one of the most successful dance nights in town, hitting The Union’s 250 person capacity multiple times in their first two years.
Bart has created various dance parties during his time in Athens. At the same time as Dance or Die parties, Bart was also throwing funk nights at Casa Cantina. Even his presently popular ’80s and ’90s nights started out at Dance or Die. He and his partner at the time, Danny “Self Help” Johnson, had played all ’80s on certain nights until Johnson got tired of the music and Bart took the idea and made it into his own.
Just like any scene, there are multiple problems that test the strength of those involved. During the Internet boom of 2002 and 2003, free download sites like Napster and Limewire invaded the bars and pushed out some DJs. Thomas said that during this time, he helped keep DJing alive in Athens.
“I went around to bars selling them an idea and a service. I talked to a guy who said that he could DJ himself with his computer and the Internet, but I told him that the difference between me and him was that in the time that he could download a song, he could have made six drinks,” says Thomas. “So I went to the bars and told them that I am going to promote and bring people to your bar and they’re going to drink and they’re going to dance and they’re going to have a good time. Every other bar was clicking on their computer and I was actually playing the girls’ requests. I could get on the mic and tell people happy birthday and give shout outs as well.”
Thomas is still trying to sell this idea to bars. Since Spotify and Pandora are cheap platforms to play music and requests, some DJs are still competing against them while Thomas is still trying to stay ahead of them. He still DJs Uptown almost every weekend, keeping bar owners happy with his professionalism and bar goers dancing with his talent.
As if complications with bar employees weren’t enough to deal with, bar patrons are known to cause problems for DJs Uptown.
“What bothers me most about doing an event that isn’t tailored to me is the lack of respect that people have. When I would go somewhere and I didn’t like the music, I wouldn’t actually voice my displeasure to the DJ,” says Thompson. “People just come up and they just want to hear what they want to hear when they want to hear it. We aren’t juke boxes; we are there because we love music and we want to have fun. People can be really combative when they don’t get to hear what they want played. People also want to try to plug their phones into my equipment and they never let it go. I feel like it’s because people are getting shittier and they are getting more vocal.”
“I hate when people get so belligerent that you have to become a baby sitter and not a DJ,” says Thomas, who never drinks alcohol. “I’m a responsible person and I’ve given a lot of rides home. I do it because I would hope that someone would do it for someone that I care about.”
When it comes to additions to the Athens nightlife scene, many DJs and bar-goers want the same thing: a real nightclub.
“Since The Swindlefish closed there really isn’t any place to call a dance club besides The Union,” says Thomas. “There aren’t a lot of places to do stuff in Uptown that isn’t a restaurant during the day time. Most of the bars are bars and don’t have a section for dancing.” Before the Nov. 16 fire, The Union was the only large Court/Union street music venue that didn’t double as a restaurant during the day (The Smiling Skull isn’t counted due to its small capacity and history as more of a rock ‘n’ roll bar.)
“You can’t really tell if it would really work,” says Thompson, who has thought about opening a club for years. “In Athens, people (mostly college students) don’t really value entertainment. They don’t want to pay a cover and the only way you can really run a club is to have a cover. If I could do it, I would open a full club. If there was a clean and fun space it would be great. It would also need to be in a 400-500 capacity place. The biggest place we have is The Union and their capacity is only 250.”
Losing both The Union and the Jackie O’s Public House for a few months due to the Nov. 16 fire will definitely put a damper on dance parties in Athens. Since most of Bart and Thompson’s parties are thrown at those locations, Casa Cantina is now one of the few venues that has a real dance floor. Red Brick Sports Pub recently re-created its basement into a nightclub called Club Underground, with neon walls and new lighting, to combat the lack of great places to go dance.
Dance nights in Athens will continue to be a wavering process, where various nights will grow and fade away. Bars will open and close their doors and technology will continue to change, but DJs Uptown won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. As long as people still want to dance, DJs will still be there to make them.
Kyle Rutherford is a senior at Ohio University studying strategic communications. Aside from writing about DJs and dance music, Kyle also DJs at uptown bars and off-campus parties. Tweet at him at @KyleDRutherford.