When I think about Court Street, I automatically think of my friends. And who better to talk about what really goes down on our favorite street than them?
He sits next to you in class and you can’t remember why he looks so familiar. It’s because you drank until you blacked out last night. And also because he was your bouncer.
Ohio University located in beautiful Appalachian, Athens County, making it feel like it’s isolated from the rest of the world.
For the students lucky enough to have a car on campus most major cities are about an hour away. Unfortunately students who don’t have cars rely on GoBuses, a popular shuttle bus that goes between major cities, with a few detours in between which makes any trip longer.
So it’s no surprise when students pick the bars on Court Street as their main source of entertainment on any given night.
They’re the unrecognized heroes of the night, bouncers.
You see them every night, you just don’t recognize their faces. You don’t care about their names, unless being friendly will get you into the bar quicker.
Bouncers are the underappreciated heroes—or, pesky villains, depending on how bad your fake I.D. happens to be—of the night.
Three brave bouncers came forward and shared their experiences from their time on the job. This is what they had to say.
It was the summer before senior year and I needed a job if I wanted to live in Athens over the summer instead of going home to work in a factory. I went to most of the bars on Court Street and applied.
It was something I always considered wanting to do when I started college. And I never regretted working there once.
If I wasn’t on a set career path I’d definitely do the job again. It was great while it lasted. You learn people and social skills because you must interact with nearly everyone that comes into the bar.
Every night you deal with at least one overly drunk person but they aren’t usually too bad to coerce out of the bar but it’s like at least once a month there’s someone trying to fight.
Once a patron threw a glass mug at the bartender. This was midday. Another time, a guy sucker punched one patron and ran out of the bar. Once someone even tried to fight the owner.
Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we would see at least 10-15 fakes per bouncer. Each state has its own holograms to set them apart. Some people would have sailboats on their holograms which no state has.
Other people don’t understand that height makes a difference, one time a guy, around 5 feet 4 inches tall, tried to use an ID for someone that was 6 feet 9 inches tall—someone I personally knew played on the football team.
I found out about the job from one of my mod mates who was working there as well. He said they were hiring so I went in with him and talked to the manager who eventually invited me back for an interview.
The job was weird honestly. I loved the atmosphere but I didn’t enjoy the “bar life.” It was a different kind of world, the people who work jobs like this live a backwards life. You go into work at 8 p.m. and get off around 4 a.m. I’m an engineering major and I couldn’t make it work with my schedule and eventually just quit Jackie O’s.
I did like the job because the people at Jackie O’s are great. There’s not a lot of annoying underclassmen, no obnoxious music, and everyone is generally in a good mood. It just wasn’t the job for me.
At Jackie O’s you turn people away every now and then, it’s an older person’s bar so there aren’t as many underage people trying to get in.
The most uncomfortable I’ve ever been was when I had to kick out one of my TA’s because he had gotten into a fight with another patron. It was weird having that authority over someone who has some kind of “authority” over you.
I’ve always wanted to work at a bar and I knew Jackie O’s was a pretty established one so I called when they were hiring and they told me to apply online. I didn’t get a response until three months later.
Working at Jackie O’s is better than I expected. It’s a laid-back environment and the people who work with me are honestly down to Earth. Jackie O’s has a certain aesthetic when it comes to who works there and the patrons which is why it works so well as a bar.
I’ve had a few people get rowdy but it’s never gotten out of hand.
We do get fake I.D.’s, but fortunately because we have a reputation of not serving underage people like some of the bars on Court Street, it’s not a lot. Their fakes get denied and then it’s up to whoever is working to decide whether they want to take their fake I.D.
Before getting the job I frequently went out but once I got the job I had to cut back immediately. Working closing shifts every Friday and Saturday took a toll on me in the beginning because I had to sacrifice going out with my friends.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Upon turning 21 years of age in Athens, Ohio, I discovered an oasis known as Lucky’s Sports Tavern. Well…okay. I knew about Lucky’s BEFORE I was 21, but that’s not the point. Being in OU’s Army ROTC program, Lucky’s has always been sort of a “right of passage” for cadets. We, of course, are strict about underage drinking, so when we are finally of age, Lucky’s is more of an exciting privilege.
When you enter this establishment, it may, at first glance, seem like a typical bar. It is not until you venture there more than a few times that you discover the many aspects you will bond with for the rest of your Bobcat lifetime.
Monday Mug Club
Ah, the infamous Mug Club. You are sitting at the bar. You look up to notice an array of glass beer mugs on the shelf in front of you. Each mug seems to have a little tag with a name or number on it. What is this, you say? Well, Lucky’s gives you the wonderful opportunity to pay a small bit of money per semester for a nice beer mug with your name on it. You will get special deals on drinks like $1.75 drafts anytime and $1 shots on Mondays. Speaking of shots, the shot menu is extensive. My friend Spyro and I have made it a goal to get through the entire shot list. They range from names like grape skittle, jet fuel, silk panties, and train wreck.
Infamous Liquor Pitchers
It’s Wednesday. A well-known bar day for OU students. $5 liquor pitchers at Lucky’s. The place gets packed. Everyone usually has a pitcher of “Lucky’s Lemonade,” “Electric Lemonade,” “Big Red Machine,” or one of the other popular liquor drinks to themselves (with about 1,578 straws in each pitcher just in case you have a lot of friends that want to share). Tip: Pour your pitcher into small plastic cups. You don’t get all the extra ice and you can finish a pitcher MUCH faster (if you don’t mind dying, that is).
Whether it be the legendary cheese stix or their monthly pizza creations, Lucky’s is a great place to spend happy hour. Cheese stix are $.50 on Fridays during happy hour. I personally like their nachos and fried pickles.
Every bar in Athens seems to have a certain crowd. From my observations, Lucky’s brings in all sorts of characters. I have seen townies, hipsters, fraternity/sorority guys and girls, and athletes. This, in my opinion, is what makes it the most likeable bar. The employees also make your experience worthwhile. They are very professional and fun. Becoming good friends with the bartenders and bouncers to the point where they know our drink orders and no longer ID us, is a pretty homey feeling, as it would be with any bar. One of the bartenders, Alex, actually came to Vegas with my friends and I.
Everyone is always having a good time in Lucky’s. As soon as you walk in, there’s almost always a crowd playing pool. You’re likely to hear the songs “Ignition” by R. Kelly or “Africa” by Toto playing over the juke box. Nobody really seems to care about what music you play, though. Everyone in Lucky’s is pretty accepting of your tastes. You could play 15 Taylor Swift songs in a row and be fine.
Check out this video: St. Patty’s Day at Lucky’s
Overall, Lucky’s holds a special place in my heart. The biggest shock to myself is that it is technically the Steelers bar of Athens. There is no other thing in this world that I hate more than the Steelers. I am a diehard Browns fan (sadly). That alone has to say a lot about the greatness of this bar. Lucky’s is just legendary. It’s tradition. It’s home.
I always am keeping up to date on Lucky’s Twitter for specials and events: https://twitter.com/luckysst
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.
We have raced down them on our way to class. We have tripped on them in the four-inch heals we never should have worn out on a Saturday night. We have stood in line on them waiting for GoodFella’s pizza, and we have gone hunting on them for the best Halloween costume each year. They have seen our reunions, our goodbyes, 21st birthdays, impromptu fests, and lots of ugly Christmas sweaters.
The bricks of Court Street are our home for our four years at Ohio University. We build the foundation of our adult lives on the bricks of our favorite college street.
But what happens after graduation day?
Why do Bobcat alumni spread their Court Street tales like old family stories, near and dear, to their new friends?
People can tell you hundreds of stories and give you thousands of reasons, but the feeling is almost unexplainable. The reason we love Court Street almost goes beyond words.
“My sister decided to give me a tour of the campus the summer before I started school that year. She showed me every brick and every corner that Athens had to offer.” —Alex Blanchard, education, Class of 2015
Blanchard and his sister stepped into Pigskin, where she told him all about her 21st birthday on Court Street. “The one thing that struck me about her story was the pure excitement about that evening,” he says. “Not the excitement over finally being able to drink (legally), but the details of how complete strangers celebrated with her. This idea of a community within the school is what inspired me to come here.”
Our first memories, while they might not stand out, stick with us.
“If we didn’t meet in someone’s room, it was at one of the businesses. All were close by, all catered to the students and the students respected them for it.” —Jeff Brediger, mechanical engineering, Class of 1981
Brediger was amazed at all the bars and eating places and realized soon after arriving in Athens that Court Street was the central gathering place in town. It was the perfect spot to get together, filled with a variety of establishments that were centered around the students.
“You could go up and down Court Street easily and see so much without really going far,” said Michelle Igelhart, community nutrition and dietetics, Class of 1994
Today, 19 bars sit within a mile radius of Court Street, not to mention a variety of restaurants, thrift shops buried with hidden treasures, local boutiques, and our favorite bookstores for essential Bobcat apparel.
“(Court Street) impacted how I lived, what I bought, and who I saw. It made college a fun place to be,” said Edie Dale, civil engineering, Class of 1995
The Bagel Buggy evolved into Burrito Buggy and now students shop for school supplies at the College Bookstore instead of Woolworth’s. O’Hooleys turned into Jackie O’s and big name franchises like Cold Stone Creamery turned into small-town favorite Fluff Bakery. Even though it has changed over time, the businesses on Court Street have been an essential part of the Uptown experience for every Bobcat and are often the most memorable part.
“The biggest part of being an alumna is I can come back whenever, but it’s not the same without the people and places you made the memories with. Court Street in general is a place where we have an emotional connection because it’s so special.” —Stephanie Caesar, public relations, Class of 2013
It was a cold winter’s night and fresh powdery snow blanketed Court Street, Blanchard recalls. Students dressed in holiday apparel and shuffled between the bars on Court Street, celebrating their last night of freedom before finals and the students’ newest fest, Santa Fest. Everyone was in great spirits and the bars were alive with Christmas music.
“A large portion of my friends would go on to graduate that winter so this was the last time we were all together, and it truly was a memory I will never forget” Blanchard says.
The people make Court Street. It’s the feel good, no worry attitude that filled the street on the weekends, and the work hard and dream big ambitions we held ourselves to throughout the week. We worked hard to play hard, and it was the people around us who made all of the hard work worth it.
“There was always the Thursday night Lucky’s gang. It was my group of friends that I hung out with all of the time. It was understood that we would get that same booth, in the same bar, with the same people, every Thursday. It was the only thing we ever really needed.” –Danny Sudetic, business, Class of 2014
Liquor pitchers on Wednesday, all night study sessions at Donkey, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” at closing time, a favorite booth in the Pub, or a slice of pizza on Slice Night at Courtside —our week-to-week routines were the same.
Our nights on Court Street were often spent with the same people in the places. Some might argue we found ourselves caught up in the midst of normality, but we’d argue back that these were some of the best times of our lives.
“All we ever needed were good friends, good food, and good times,” Sudetic said.
Living life on our own terms
“We were somewhere that is not only beautiful but also somewhere we were comfortable and happy to be because you know people who truly mean something to you are there and you are doing things on your own terms and going after your dreams in college. Its the epicenter of campus that holds true the character of Ohio University.” – Stephanie Caesar
When we came to Athens as a freshman, it was the first time in our lives that we were free from the confines of our parents. No more curfews, rules, or disappointed looks when we came home an hour late. Court Street was freedom. We were free to stay out, go out, and hang out with whomever. We decided whom our families away from our families would be made up of.
It was the breath of fresh air that we had never had before and following graduation would never truly have again. Our only worries were class and, for some, work. We lived life the way we wanted to live it, not worried about anything else besides having a good time.
What we tell others
“People who wouldn’t have a connection to Court Street haven’t experienced it. It’s always upbeat. Epicenter of amazing.” –Stephanie Caesar
As many students and alumni already know, trying to explain Court Street to others without breaking out in pure joy is close to impossible. It is also something that can be hard to understand to those we tell about it.
“You don’t hear stories like ours at other colleges and universities,” said Ron Smith, organizational communication, Class of 1997. “Other schools talk about how proud OU alumni are … as we should be!”
Our pride in our school goes beyond campus. We not only take pride in being Bobcats, but we are also proud of supporting the community on Court Street and sharing the stories about them wherever we go.
“This answer (to why Court Street is so special) lies in what we call the ‘Magic of Athens.’ Court Street adds to the small, college-town feel. The bricks, the old history of the buildings and all the locally owned business make Court Street an OU experience.” – Ron Smith
The buildings look like a replica of Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life. The majestic Athena time warps you back to the 1950s as buildings line streets that were built back to the late 1800s. But not only does Court Street seem physically timeless, the spirit has never changed.
“Court Street is our common ground. I know when I come back that is where I’ll find everyone and it feels like it hasn’t changed,” said Sudetic.
We valued traditions and worked to uphold them. Things we might not have understood as freshmen became a part of us by the time we graduated. We might have thought back then that the seniors were strange for being so sad about leaving but now we know the feeling.
“I enjoy every chance I can to walk down the street again and remember a lot of good times,” Brediger said.
“When I come back and I am driving across route 50, I always come in the back way so I see the river (which was re-routed) and South Green. It is like someone is waving a magic wand. I am transported!” –Denise Gibbons, fashion merchandising, Class of 1978
Our connection with Court Street is classic and timeless. We can leave for years but the second we step foot on the corner of Union and Court Street it almost feels as if we never left.
“I love hearing my name called out and turning to see an old friend that just pulled in. It means I’m home,” said Dale.
While we may have left Athens for years and businesses and establishments have changed, there are moments on Court Street that can take you back 10 years like nothing has changed. That’s Dale’s favorite part of returning as an alumna. Today, she enjoys returning for homecoming and the excitement of returning to the bricks she still considers home for her.
“Now that I have a child, (what it means to be an alumnus is) introducing her to the magic of Athens in hopes that it will catch on.” –Ron Smith
We joke with our friends that our children will have no choice but to attend OU someday, when really we pray that they do. We don’t except them to have the same experiences as we had necessarily. But truly, we wish them all of the joy and happiness in their college lives as we had because we know that there is no better place than the bricks of Court Street.
Trying to grasp our love for Court Street is like trying to catch air in your hands. It’s impossible. The outside world might not understand it, but we do, and we know that there is nothing like it. We valued our college years because we always knew how time would fly and that our days on the bricks would be limited. We were sentimental, knowing that each drink during that last semester as seniors was strong yet bittersweet. It’s a love that is pure and filled with all-intensive good. It’s the best kind of love that is unexplainable, and maybe that’s the way it should just be explained.
Tell us your story
Bobcats love to talk about OU. If you have a story or recollection, post it below in the comments …
Sarah Kenney is a senior at Ohio University pursuing two undergraduate degrees in journalism and video production. She is a coffee loving travel enthusiast and adventure seeker who enjoys classic films, skiing, good laughs, football games on Sunday afternoons, and time at home with her two dogs, Marley and Mia. She aspires to someday write for a comedy or drama television series or work in travel media or visual branding.
Do you never know what to order at the bar? Check out this list of signature drinks on Court Street to help you satisfy your late-night drinking.
Lucky’s Sports Tavern
- Liquor Pitcher ($5) on Wednesdays.
- Lunchbox ($4.50) is a pint glass filled with beer and orange juice. You drop a shot of 151 and Amaretto into the glass and chug the drink.
Cat’e Eye Saloon
- Browns bomb ($4.50) is a shot containing orange vodka, Peach Schnapps and an orange-flavored Monster.
Red Brick Tavern
- Mega Mug ($4.50) is mug filled with 20 ounces of beer.
- Vegas Bomb ($3) is a shot of Crown, Peach Schnapps and Red Bull.
- Crystal Ball ($2.75) is a mixed drink containing vodka, Grape Pucker, and Sprite.
The Pigskin Bar and Grille
- Black Widow ($4) is a mixed drink containing vodka, rum, gin, Raspberry Pucker, Blue Curacao, sour mix, Sprite and cranberry juice.
- Blackout ($4) is a mixed drink of sprite, Blue Maui, Raspberry Burnett’s, sour mix and two red cherries.
- Aquarium ($4) is a 32-ounce goblet of beer.
- The Junction Punch ($4) is a mixed drink containing vodka, rum, gin, Mixed Berry Medley Schnapps, Grenadine, sour mix and Sprite.
- Brain Stomper ($4) is a mixed drink containing rum, gin, vodka, orange juice, sour mix and Grenadine.
- Marijuana Shot ($3) is a shot containing vodka, Peach Schnapps, Blue Curacao, Sour Apple mix, orange juice and pineapple juice.
Courtside Sports Bar
- Adios ($3.50) is a mixed drink containing Long Island mix, Blue Curacao, sour mix, Sprite and a lemon.
Broney’s Alumni Grill
- Loaded Margarita ($5) is a mixed drink containing tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, sour mix and a corona.
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.
It’s a Friday night in Athens, Ohio. The air is cool; the leaves have changed color and are starting to fall. College students chirp and laugh on the streets like ants scattering out of an ant farm, all heading in different directions. They yell, “Meet us there” or “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” These are not just students. They are experts on the best places to go on Court Street.
Uptown bar life on Court Street can overwhelm newcomers. Some students don’t even venture past where the bookstores and coffee shops morph into loud bar music, tattoo parlors, and head shops. The karaoke nights with live DJs and bands or unbelievable drink specials might actually scare some people rather than intrigue them. The idea that you can leave your house with a 20-dollar bill and come back with change might seem asinine, crazy, or ridiculous, but to us broke college students there is only one word to describe it: awesome.
Court Street is known for its delicious food, festive events, and multiple bars in less than a block. Some people might judge Ohio University, saying it’s a “small town with a big drinking problem.” It’s not necessarily “a problem,” but you definitely don’t hear crickets at the bar on a Saturday night. Maybe the real problem isn’t finding a fun bar because let’s face it, they all have their perks. The real problem is getting the most bang for your buck.
Every bar offers not only different drinks, but also a different atmosphere. When out-of-towners do visit they should have an authentic Court Street experience and know exactly what to try when a bartender looks their way. As an OU senior on a tight budget, I am no longer a Court Street rookie. I’ve had plenty of sad Sundays cringing as I log onto my bank account hoping to like what I see. After four years, I think I’ve finally figured it out.
Let’s start off at Lucky’s Sports Tavern, one of the most renowned sports bars on Court Street. It’s one of the first bars you will see after heading away from campus. If you’re from out of state, prepare to be asked for multiple forms of identification. This tends to be one of the stricter bars on campus. And if you are a Browns or Bengals fan, you might want to skip this bar after seeing the black and gold that coats the walls. Pittsburgh fans, this bar might hold you captive for the entire night, and you’ll love every second of it. Start your night off with a vodka lemonade ($3.25), a drink you could order at almost any bar, but for some reason it just tastes right at Lucky’s.
Next, hop across the street to Red Brick. Prepare yourself to be surrounded by freshmen using fake I.D.s and sipping Red Bull vodkas. (Because that’s what college students drink … right?) Order the Ricci Root ($2.50) (pronounced reach-y root). It’s root beer vodka, coke, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous you can ask the bartender to top it off with a splash of Baileys. It’s refreshing and tastes just like a root beer float. Red Brick features an interesting crowd. Besides many freshmen hoping to scoot past the bouncer when he’s not looking, many local Athens residents hang out at Red Brick.
After you’ve indulged, make your way past Court Street Diner, which is perfect for a rough morning hangover, and enter The C.I. Ask the bartender at the front bar for a basket of free peanuts. They’re delicious and provide just enough nourishment to keep you going for the rest of the night. If you’re more of a beer person, the C.I. has multiple drafts to choose from. But if you can handle your liquor, order an SMC ($1.75), which contains vodka, Malibu, cranberry juice, and dragon berry vodka. It’s the perfect mix of strawberry, mango, and cranberry. C.I. is also famous for their bombs (a shot with a chaser already poured inside). The prices vary, but some definitely worth trying are dragon berry bombs or a starry night. Be careful, though. A few too many of these might end your night.
For your sanity, just walk right past Crystal. It’s the most popular underage bar. It is where most of the Greeks hang out, and it smells like sewage. As far as notorious Court Street bars go, The Crystal takes first place.
Past C.I. and Crystal, there’s Pigskin. It is a nice escape from the wooden, sticky floors and crowded spaces of the previous bars. The open area provides room for more people, and the pool and Ping-Pong tables give this bar a laid-back environment. It’s a great bar to take a break from drinking, with its ample seating areas, but I highly recommend trying their Mojitos ($5). This is the most you will spend on a drink, but the end result is more than satisfying. The atmosphere allows you to enjoy your drink rather than chugging it down as you squeeze through the crowd desperately seeking the door.
Across the street you will see Pawpurrs, the bar known for its friendly owner, drinks suitable for a college student’s budget, and the one place you will find yourself shamelessly singing along to boy band hits of the ’90s. If you’re not one to be right in the action, the open areas allow room for newcomers to just sit back, sip, and watch. Although the cleanliness and stench are only a little easier to deal with than Crystal, Pawpurrs’ perfect playlists accompanying a dancing stage and cheap drinks make the trip worthwhile. Order a Teddy Graham ($2), which is basically a White Russian with RumChata. It goes down smooth and tastes just like that childhood snack. After you’ve sipped down your drink, and maybe busted out a few Backstreet Boys songs, say goodbye and go next door to The Pub.
The Pub is small and tavern-like, but their Bloody Marys ($4) are to die for. They make them pretty spicy so keep that in mind when ordering, but as a pseudo-connoisseur, I’d say the Pub’s take the lead by far. After you’ve sipped on that, stumble right next door again to J Bar.
J Bar is known for its great playlists but pricey drinks (compared to its neighbors). The real way to go to J Bar is to drink before, that way you don’t find yourself racking up a tab there. If you’re feeling a little thirsty and craving a beverage, though, order a Crabbies ($4). It’s a ginger beer served on ice with lemon and lime, and it tastes incredible. It’s on the higher side in alcohol content but a smooth and light beer. The top level allows for plenty of space although it’s usually not empty, being an extremely popular bar among students.
For the final destination, stop by Courtside, located at the end of Court Street, to enjoy a few slices of delicious, fresh-out-of-the oven pizza (and an ice cold Blue Moon ($3.50) if you just so happen to find a few extra bucks in your pocket.). Courtside has some of the best bar food on campus, including pizza, wings, subs, salads, etc. Whatever your drunken heart desires, Courtside offers (or delivers).
“Closing Time” by Semisonic will play to signal the night is coming to an end. The lights will come on in all of the bars, allowing bouncers to start herding out crowds and prompting friends to reunite to end their night together. People will link arms, yelling to groups ahead to wait up and hugging goodbye, until tomorrow night. After you leave Courtside, you can look over your should at the lit up skyline of small-town Athens, Ohio. You are no longer lost. Athens found you and wants you to know you’re always welcome back.
Richelle Miller is a senior at Ohio University studying strategic communication and marketing. She is a coffee-addict, bookworm, music-obsessed animal lover. When she’s not in classes, studying, or working, she spends maybe a little too much time on Court Street. Her dream job is to relocate to Southern California, become a writer, and have the ocean as a backyard view.