The best hole in the wall this side of the Hocking

Whether it’s your grandma’s house, the treehouse your dad built for you when you were a kid or your favorite home team’s arena, everyone has a special place in their life that’s always welcoming and makes them feel right at home, and I’m no different.

It’s the go-to meetup location anytime one of my friends comes back to town. It was stop number one on my first green beer day outing. It’s where I go to trash talk the Steelers to my favorite bartender in Athens. Simply put, it’s The Pub.

Since 1974, The Pub has been servicing the Athens community with its great burgers, great beer and great beer cheese soup. The bartenders are always friendly, there’s always a game worth watching on and if you happen to stumble in on a saturday night, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. For the last couple of months The Pub has turned into the go to spot for me and my friends. After ending classes on friday we all meet up together at 4, just in time to catch the start of our favorite bartender’s shift, to catch up and hang out. The lack of other people in the middle of the afternoon and the friendly face behind the counter makes it feel like we own the place and that we’re right at home.

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My first trip to this wonderful establishment was in the middle of summer 2015 when a buddy asked me if I had ever had their food. I admitted that I had never been which then led to him dragging me to the restaurant. From the second I walked in I could feel The Pub’s character everywhere I looked. The worn down wooden floors showed that many a patrons had been through, the scratched tables and booths hinted at the decades of post-class meetups that had gone down and the townies that lined the bar on that Thursday afternoon told me I was at a place worth staying. We sat down, ate and enjoyed the atmosphere. Then we did it again the following week. And the rest is history.

Whether it’s a weekday afternoon or a weekend night out with some friends, The Pub is the one-stop-shop for a good time in Athens. You’ll come for the cheap drinks and stay because of the great time you’re destined to have with the reassurance that the headache you have in the morning is because of a great time you had the night before.

Reviewing the best cheeseburgers on Court Street

Breaks in between classes are usually only good for one thing: eating lunch. But sometimes, the normal fresh fruit or salad gets boring. Sometimes a greasy sandwich with beef and cheese is the best thing to quell your hunger. But where are the best places to get cheeseburgers around Court Street?

FAST FOOD CHAIN

Wendy’s has, by far, the greasiest cheeseburgers. This is especially true if— like me— you enjoy bacon on them.

Hamburger: The “Always fresh, never frozen” patties served at Wendy’s are tender, yet hearty and tasty. Watch out for grease dropping as you take bites, though. A

Cheese: Wendy’s uses pretty basic sliced yellow, processed cheese- nothing too bold or tasty for the international chain. C

Toppings: A Wendy’s cheeseburger comes with all the usual toppings, such as lettuce, tomato and onion. Or you can get one without any toppings. You can even get some OK bacon on your sandwich. B

Buns: Wendy’s doesn’t use sesame seed buns on their cheeseburgers, but theirs are OK for what they are. B

Overall: There is not much wrong with a Wendy’s cheeseburger and there shouldn’t be, considering it’s designed by a billion dollar corporation. But the high quality of the grade-A hamburger meat is not helped by its merely above average supporting cast. It’s still a good sandwich, though. B

SPECIALTY

The Uptown Grille, just a little ways down Union Street, cooks several different sandwiches for customers who are on the go, but its real value lies in its cheeseburgers.

Hamburgers: Uptown Grille’s hamburgers are lean and good. However, they’re on the skinny side so toppings are a must. B

Cheese: The cheddar that Uptown Grille uses complements the saltiness of the burger perfectly and is best when paired with a sauce like A1 or barbecue. A

Toppings: The bacon isn’t lean enough for my taste, but Uptown Grille is willing to put different sauces on your cheeseburger from buffalo sauce to, as previously mentioned, A1. B

Buns: Uptown Grille uses pretty standard rolls for buns, and they are not durable for the amount of grease that comes from the burger. Grease and any additional sauce added to the sandwich saturate its paper wrapping. If you’re eating on the go, make sure you have some napkins because you may have a mess. C

Overall: The ingredients in an Uptown Grille cheeseburger are not all perfect, but the sandwich tastes really good and is ideal for eating between classes. B

SIT-DOWN

Now I would never promote day drinking (never!), especially if you’re underage. If on the off chance you want your cheeseburger at lunch to be served on a plate (but not—I repeat— not with a beer) in a relaxing atmosphere, you can’t go wrong with The Pub.

Hamburger: Tender, thick and juicy, The Pub’s quarter pounder is everything you’d want in a burger. A

Cheese: A simple slice of American melted just right is enough to complement the patty perfectly. A

Toppings: The bacon that The Pub uses is top notch and cooked to perfection and they don’t put an excessive amount of it on the cheeseburgers. In addition to the bacon, there is a variety of other toppings to choose from as well, including blue cheese and onion rings. The Pub can be forgiven for not offering many  sauces. A

Buns: The cheeseburgers at The Pub have standard buns (no sesame seeds), but the quality lies in the fact that they don’t suffer from being wrapped up in paper or used by a chain restaurant. A

Overall: The Pub has the best cheeseburgers in Athens. It’s impossible to think of anything wrong with them. They are by far the most impressive and that’s saying something because there are plenty of good burgers on Court Street. A+

So, follow this guide if you want to indulge in a cheeseburger for lunch or if you don’t want to settle for microwave sliders anymore. Eating a burger at one of the locations uptown will be worth your time and money.

A lone Patriot in Bengals-Browns-Steelers land

I’m a Patriots fan. Yes, a Patriots fan.

If it isn’t already hard enough to find the Patriots game televised at an Athens bar, I’ve got petty Browns fans yelling down my neck, “Brady’s washed up!”

Sure if you want to call seven AFC Championship appearances in the last 10 years “washed up,” then I’d agree with you.

But that’s another story.

It’s cold, way too cold to be moving out of bed after the weekend I had. But football’s on! I turn out of my single bed only to touch my bare feet to the ice-cold wooden planks of my bedroom floor. GameDay! It’s about time Sunday rolled around. By now I’m already suited up in my navy blue Tom Brady jersey, preferably with a Patriots long sleeve under it for added warmth. Shortly after, walking down my hallway, I hear a facetious, “Nice jersey, Carpenter. ” I can’t even walk around my own apartment without being ridiculed about my “bandwagon” antics and how I’m “not an actual Patriots fan.” The bars won’t be much better.

Whether or not you want to drink on Sunday, that’s your call.  Some do, some don’t.  Some local bars are more fitting come Sunday than others, but for a Patriots fan – and other NFL fans who don’t pledge allegiance to the BrownsBengalsSteelers – it’s a lonely waltz down Court Street. Where to go?

In Athens, Courtside Pizza is the go-to bar to watch the NFL. Sure, the floors are still sticky from the night before, and the aroma of stale beer and body odor masks most of the fresh air. I’ll walk in and plop myself in the nearest booth anyway.

The atmosphere is tailored toward your football addiction, yet focused on the inevitable Browns, Bengals, or Steelers fan.  Every television screen, pushing 30 of them, is playing live NFL games that Courtside employees keep loud to ensure the desired fan atmosphere. The televisions are massive near the door. As you move along the bar the screens get drastically smaller. The more isolated the spot, the smaller the screen. Yet I see no Patriots game.  Beer prices go down, though not much. Averaging $2-$2.50 normally, drafts are $1.75 on game day. I asked the bartender, “Hey, you think we can get a Patriots game on around here?”

He laughed. By then, I was moving on.

The vast variety of bars on Court Street is astonishing. My roommate Logan Cassidy had been working at The Crystal for around eight months, including the summer, so I thought I’d head that way.

As I’m passing the BP Gas station, I’m surprised to see small piles of vomit, each spaced out about 3 feet apart, heading up Court Street. It’s not even 1:30 p.m. at this point, come on people. I finally stumble into The Crystal. Literally. There was a huge 2-by-4 poking out from behind the front-door entrance. Way to “ensure safety,” Crystal staff.

While I dust off my pants from biting it at the doorway, I raise my head to see nothing but Browns fans. Ugh, here we go. They’re all staring at me. It had to be the jersey. Sure, Browns fans are bitter after giving up a 12-point lead with a minute to go in the fourth quarter to the Patriots last year. Get over it. I find the nearest stool and finally saw Logan.

“What can I get you, brother?” Cassidy asks. Double-shot of Jameson? I thought. Yeah, right, as if I had the money.

“Just a Bud Light man,” I answer. Logan walked away, fetching my $1.75 draft as I sat alone. As I waited, I decided I’d use the restroom. Fatal mistake. The Crystal bathrooms reeked of ungodly feces. I immediately turned around, almost throwing up. I reclaimed my seat only to hear the pack of hyenas calling themselves Browns fans snickering at me. I damn near turned around to say something, but my beer arrived just in time.

Logan and I talked for awhile. The bar wasn’t too busy, never really is at The Crystal come Sunday. Wednesday through Saturday at the Crystal is mayhem. Times where just you are the only person actually sitting at the bar are enjoyable. Knowing this didn’t happen very often, I continued drinking delightfully.

“These Browns fans man, I’m telling you. I’ve never seen fans so desperate to see their team win. They’ll hate you before they even know you just to see their team win. It makes me laugh,” Cassidy said. He was right. The Browns have been so abysmal the past 10 years I guess their fans have gone crazy for them to finally be good. Don’t get your hopes up, Dawg Pound.

Come to figure out, I’ve been sitting at The Crystal for about 45 minutes now watching the local televised game, Bengals at Buccaneers. This wasn’t nearly as bad as watching the Browns-Ravens game, even though four television screens surrounding me were broadcasting it. I asked Logan, “Any way you can throw the Pats game on?” He said he would if the company’s Sunday Ticket program (allowing access to watch any given game from DIRECTV) hadn’t been canceled. “For now it’s just local broadcasts,” Cassidy said. Thus meaning, Browns, Bengals, Steelers games.

At this point it’s getting ridiculous.

Next I head to The Pub across the street.  The Pub does an excellent job at mixing great food with great football.  There’s nothing like a hot meal alongside a cheap draft ($1.75) on Sundays. Walking into The Pub I thought, This is it! The smell of hamburger damn near knocked me out while there was a subtle aroma of buffalo sauce.

Sitting down in the nearest booth, I ordered a Bug Light pitcher for my buddy Ethan and me. Immediately I was surprised by the price. “It’ll be $7.25,” the surprisingly attractive bartender, blonde hair, piercing eyes, says to me. We were downing a couple drinks when our friends — Ravens fans, unfortunately — stumbled through the door. Here we go, I thought. To my astonishment, they bought us a pitcher. I guess since the prices were cheaper they felt more inclined to show they had $7.25. Whatever, I’ll take it.

Still trying to watch my Patriots, the game is obviously not on and by now it’s 2:15 p.m. At this point I’m getting sick of looking at all four screens in front of me seeing the same dreadful colors of orange, black, white, and brown. Hardly anyone in Athens is a Patriots fan so no reason to put the game on. Sure I’m following it on my SportsCenter app – Pats up 17-7 – but still. Near the end of our second pitcher, I begin looking around, scoping out the other committed fans. First person I see is a petite blonde woman. I asked her what team she rooted for. “I don’t like football,” she said. Hm, alright. So she doesn’t like football, yet chose one of the most fan-driven bars to come to on a Sunday? Confusing. “I just come here because my cousin is the bartender and gives me free drinks,” she continued. ­Ah ha! I thought. There it was. Plain and simple. Where the drinks are cheap, and in this case “free,” the customers will flock.

So the idea is “free drinks.” Sure I’m still trying to find the Patriots game televised somewhere, but I know a bartender, Anna Rutkousky, at The Pigskin so I thought why not?

Crossing the street once again, I stop into The Pigskin.  Like The Pub, this bar offers great food with a large capacity, enabling you to actually relax and not be shoulder-to-shoulder, like at Courtside.  The Pigskin is large, larger than most bars. It’s extremely long, but wide as well, enabling its 235-person capacity to fill up comfortably. The bar also has a back patio, which is nice for football during great weather.

First thing I see is a 42-inch LCD television where Tom Brady is throwing a touchdown. Yes! Finally! I think, almost screaming it out loud. Finally I made it to a bar that was televising the game I originally came out to watch.

Turning the corner, I see Anna. I told her how thankful I was that they were actually showing the Patriots game. “I don’t know much about football but I know management makes us show a different game on almost every TV,” Anna said. There are around 18 TVs in the bar so that was perfectly fine by me as I ordered a 32-ounce Bud Light draft ($2.25). At this point, there were three minutes left in the game, but I was content, sitting alone, finishing off the game happily.

Some bars come alive on Sunday, some don’t.  Football definitely brings students out, even if they don’t want to “get drunk.”  Come Sunday, head to one of the bars earlier suggested and don’t drink, you’ll still have a good time. This week I found the Patriots game. Next week my first stop will be the Pigskin. Finally finding what I was looking for, I still know that with the bundles of exaggerated Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh fans around here, at any moment I might have to go searching again.

This is the struggle of the Lone Patriots Fan.

***

John Carpenter is a senior at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.  John is a huge Patriots fan and is planning on graduating in Spring 2015, majoring in broadcast journalism.

Bars strive to thwart underage drinkers

Every year, approximately 5,000 freshmen enter Ohio University, ready to start their college careers and test OU’s reputation as a party school, even if the majority of them can’t drink legally. But it’s important to know that underage drinking can have serious consequences, and the bartenders and bouncers at Court Street bars are working to ensure their establishments obey the law.

According to the 2014 Alcohol and Other Drugs survey conducted by the university, only 14% of students at Ohio University do not drink. However, for the first time in several years, Ohio University eluded The Princeton Review’s list of Top 10 party schools. In 2012, OU was ranked No. 3, and in 2013, it ranked No. 7. This is encouraging to Ohio University officials, who have made it a priority to distance the university from the party-school reputation.

One of the ways Ohio University discourages underage drinking is by making the consequences severe. The school has a two-strike rule, whereby if a student is caught underage drinking by the university, they are put on six months of probation. The student is also required to take a six-hour alcohol class on a Saturday during this time. If the student is caught a second time within this period, he or she is suspended. Whether the student is arrested in a bar or caught by an RA in a dorm room, the consequences remain the same. Ohio University also requires all incoming freshmen to take AlcoholEdu, an online class followed by an in-person discussion on the dangers of binge drinking.

In 2012, the Athens Police Department arrested 238 people for underage drinking, while in 2013 they arrested 227. It may be too early to detect whether or not this downward trend will continue, but because of strictly enforced rules at bars, it is a possibility.

An Ohio University sophomore who requested anonymity says it’s easier to get caught than most students believe. She was enjoying a drink at The Crystal with a couple of friends as she had done many times before during her freshman year. An undercover officer came up to her and demanded to see her ID. She was ushered out the door, where she was arrested for possession of alcohol and a fake ID. Fortunately, the arrest was expunged from her record after she completed the diversion program.

The diversion program required her to perform eight hours of community service, pay a $319 fine, and attend a three-hour alcohol safety class. The program is offered to all first-time offenders whose pending charges are classified as a misdemeanor related to alcohol. Those who successfully complete the program will not have a criminal conviction on their records.

The OU sophomore believes this could have affected her entire life. She is an education major and has heard it is difficult to find a job teaching elementary school students when you have an underage drinking conviction. Her advice to other students is simple: “Don’t feel like because you’ve gone to the bars before and haven’t been caught, you can’t get in trouble. The more you go, the more prone you are to getting caught. It can happen to anyone. I never drank in high school, and this still happened to me. Be careful and watch out because it can affect your whole life.”

There also are repercussions for serving alcohol to someone who is underage in Ohio. The offender could receive a fine of $500 to $1,000, and go to jail for up to six months. The bar where the offense took place also could receive a citation and be issued a hefty fine. Because of this, the bartenders on Ohio University’s campus are careful when it comes to those they serve.

Will Irvine, a senior at Ohio University who has tended bar at The Pub for a year, says, “It all starts at the door.” The bouncers are given strict training to avoid admitting underage patrons, he said. However, if there is no bouncer working the door, the bartenders are taught to card everyone who orders a drink. Irvine also cards unfamiliar customers who look underage even if there is a bouncer working.

If Irvine is handed a fake ID, he asks the person presenting it to leave and informs the other employees to look out for that person in the future.  “The Pub’s policy on underage drinking can be considered strict on the Ohio University campus,” Irvine said. “We do not tolerate (underage) drinking by any means, and if we come in contact with an underage person in our establishment, we undertake our own specific process not only to inform the person that we do not tolerate such actions in our bar, but to inform everyone present of the behavior that they will abide by while in our establishment.”

Working as a bartender can be intimidating, especially when just starting out. Andee Scaife began working at Broney’s Alumni Grill in October 2014 and is just now getting the hang of it. She believes Broney’s has been successful in deterring underage drinking. “People on campus immediately know not to even try to use a fake ID because our bouncers and bartenders are so strict,” she says. “The fact that we have stuck with being strict for so long has given us the reputation we have.”

Several students said trying to use a fake ID at Broney’s almost guarantees it will be taken from you. To protect herself from getting in trouble, Scaife always IDs potential customers, saying she would rather be safe than sorry. She also studies the handbook of fake vs. real IDs for every state. To determine if an ID is fake, Broney’s can swipe it with their computer to make sure it’s real. Broney’s encourages its employees to “second form” customers if they are in doubt. Second forming refers to asking for another form of ID, whether that is a credit card or student ID, to make sure the names match up. This method is used at many bars on campus.

Drew Miletti, a bouncer at Stephen’s, knows how important it is for him to be vigilant when it comes to checking IDs. He is responsible for denying underage people. He was trained by shadowing a fellow bouncer for a night and instructed on how to read Ohio and Pennsylvania IDs because they are the most common. He was also told to second form anyone who has an ID from another state.

The bouncers and bartenders of these Court Street establishments know how hard it is to prevent underage drinking. While they all love their jobs, they admit it can be tough at times. There are hundreds of underage students attempting to get into the bars, a problem that seems to afflict Ohio University more than several of its peer institutions. While there will always be 18-year-olds using fake IDs on a college campus, students from other universities in Ohio say students rarely go to the bars if they are under 21. Emily Greaves, a 20-year-old junior at Kent State University, said she has never gone to a bar at her school, and  most students wait until they are 21. At Dayton University, house parties are the norm, and drinking at the bars is reserved for those who are of age, said 20-year-old junior Danielle Shatrich. Abby Yoder, a student at Ohio State University who recently celebrated her 21st birthday, said she went to the bars only a few times before she turned 21 and was always nervous when she went.

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Emily Peterson is a junior at Ohio University, majoring in strategic communications and minoring in marketing. She recently decided to switch her major from news and information, realizing that she’s more of a Samantha than a Carrie. She enjoys the 3 Rs, running, reading and relaxing in her spare time. She hopes to live in Chicago upon graduation, work for a PR firm and have enough money to buy Starbucks every morning.

Court Street bars’ signature drinks

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.

The C.I.

  • Vegas Bomb ($3) is a shot of Crown, Peach Schnapps and Red Bull.

The Crystal

  • 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.

Pawpurr’s Bar

  • Blackout ($4) is a mixed drink of sprite, Blue Maui, Raspberry Burnett’s, sour mix and two red cherries.

The Pub

  • Aquarium ($4) is a 32-ounce goblet of beer.

J Bar

  • The Junction Punch ($4) is a mixed drink containing vodka, rum, gin, Mixed Berry Medley Schnapps, Grenadine, sour mix and Sprite.

The Overhang

  • Brain Stomper ($4) is a mixed drink containing rum, gin, vodka, orange juice, sour mix and Grenadine.

Stephen’s

  • 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a bar that’s just right? Shuffle with us

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.

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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.

Court Street guide for newbies

As a freshman I was intimidated the first time I came to campus. Crazy thoughts ran through my mind.

What if I look like a freshman?

Am I going to get picked on?

How the heck am I going to find friends?

The one thing I was most conflicted about was where to go and what to eat. Where do all the hot guys go to eat? Of course that was a stupid thought because it’s not like they congregate in one place. Or do they?

Now, as an upperclassman, I know a few answers to those questions, but I’ll leave it to the  newbies to figure out the answers. The one thing I will provide is a list of the top five (or eight) most popular spots to eat and drink on the most popular street in Athens — Court Street.

SidebarIn a tie for the No. 2 spot we have Jackie O’s and Bagel Street DeliSurveying upperclassmen about where to go and what to eat is no easy feat. With a small sample of only 46 people, the answers were relatively varied. But as most of America knows, Chipotle is always the place to go, and according to OU students, we Bobcats follow the American way.

I was hoping for some unique restaurant you can find only in Athens as the No. 1 spot, but our taste buds are accustomed to those “bomb-ass carnitas,” as one student put it. I didn’t even need to ask what the newbies should get there because let’s face it, it’s Chipotle, even I know what to get there (and I don’t even like it). Quite frankly, it gives me heartburn that I would like to avoid.

My best friend and roommates are so “addicted,” it’s as if they can’t live without it. After the Union Street fire in November, multiple posts on Yik Yak, an anonymous gossip app, spread the rumor that  Court Street Chipotle would be closed for the rest of the semester. Although untrue, the posts caused some students to start planning trips to Lancaster or Columbus just to get their carnitas. It seemed people were more worried about their burrito fix than the fire itself. So I guess it makes sense Chipotle stole the No. 1 spot.

While I have never been to either location, I have heard rave reviews about both places. Unfortunately, Jackie O’s Public House was forced to close for several weeks after the fire and just recently reopened and is serving food again.

Bagel Street Deli has a long list of almost every bagel creation you can think of. Even though it looks like a hole in the wall, there is so much potential behind those doors. It is definitely on my college bucket list (which you should consider making). Some of the most popular bagels are the Tom’s Turkey, the pizza bagel, and Da Carmella. They have so many combinations on the menu it is almost impossible to not find something you like. Don’t be scared when you walk in. On Parent’s Weekend last year, my family and I decided to try it out. We walked in, saw it was extremely crowded and my anxiety about not knowing what to order got the best of me and we ran out of there. Don’t do that! Just try it and you may become as addicted to it as my friends are to Chipotle.

The No. 3 spot belongs to The Pub. Although it is farther down Court Street, don’t be afraid to venture to the “bar side,” as I call it. There are so many bars on the far end of Court Street that it is hard to figure out which one to try. Take a look at some of the bar pieces on Court Street Stories.com to learn about some of the watering holes around town.

The Pub sticks out like a sore thumb on Court Street, with its wood slats painted an odd shade of green, and the sign looking a little weathered and outdated. According to the survey, one of the best things to get is a burger. It doesn’t matter what kind, it is your burger after all, so get what you want, but they are supposedly delicious. At night is when the fun comes out, with a rainbow usually appearing in multiple shot glasses. If you don’t know what rainbow shots are, either just go and try them or check out Tipsy Bartender on YouTube. The intro is a very pretty collection of rainbow shots. Another item is the Aquarium Beer, which is basically beer in a fishbowl that you can suck down with friends or just get drunk solo. Again, if you are not of age, add it to the bucket list but at least try a burger. I mean, who doesn’t love a good burger?

The No. 4 spot must have been a tough decision because The Pigskin, Casa Nueva and Big Mamma’s Burritos all tied.

The Pigskin is one of the “prettier” bars on Court Street, meaning it doesn’t necessarily look like a typical Athens bar but more of a “restaurant undercover,” so to say. With an all-glass front, it is also one of the most recognizable. One of the most popular items is the Thin Mint shot. It supposedly tastes exactly like the Girl Scout cookie. I don’t know about you, but I love Girl Scout cookies and Thin Mints are one of my favorites, so this shot is definitely on my list.

Casa Nueva is popular among OU students. They have some good food, and I can say that because I have actually been there. Rare, I know. The margaritas are a big hit as well as the nachos. “Casa” features karaoke nights and live bands. The atmosphere is unique and you don’t have to be 21 years old to enjoy what they have to offer.  Big Mamma’s Burritos is also relatively well-known, mostly because a lot of people consider it “drunk food.” They are open late and burritos are pretty easy to carry, so it makes sense. Some crowd faves include the Buffalo Mamma and the Chipotle Ranch Mamma.

Finally, the No. 5 spot is Stephen’s On Court. This restaurant/bar is a little more upscale than others on Court Street, but the pasta is really good from the students’ point of view. The popular shot is a Chocolate Covered Pretzel Shot, which sounds amazing to me. Although they are situated on the opposite end of Court Street from campus, it is still worth a try to get there during your time at OU.

The main reason people chose these places was because of the price. Everyone knows that college kids have little to no money. My only question is how are they buying this food? We complain about how broke we are, but we are still buying $7 burritos and shots every weekend. But here’s the catch — the food is so much better than Ramen noodles in the microwave on a Monday night. A lot of it is locally grown, which supports the community and makes you feel like you contributed something. The atmosphere of these places is also a big draw. Some are a little more relaxed than others, you just have to figure out what you are in the mood for.

Now that you know the top places to eat around campus, and what to get there, you can start working on the answer to the most important question: Where do you go to find the attractive people on campus? If this article hasn’t taught you anything, at least now you know that they are probably as obsessed with Chipotle as the next Bobcat.

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Taylor Feeney is a junior Visual Communications major at Ohio University. Her dream job is to be a freelance web designer or to own a small startup situated somewhere warm and sunny. She loves to read and drinks a lot of coffee so she can stay up late on a Netflix binge while making ugly websites pretty.

Tips from Court Street’s women bartenders

She throws on a women’s fit T-shirt with a Court Street bar’s  logo, a pair of denim shorts, and gym shoes —because the floor behind the bar can get slippery. Behind the bar, she’s ready to serve drinks and prepared for any customer who gets a little too friendly. She drops some change and bends down to pick it up. Even over the music, she hears the whistles directed toward her from the other side of the counter. And it doesn’t stop there. They’re calling her “baby” and grabbing her hand when she takes their credit card to pay for their fourth round of shots. She shakes it off, gets back to work, and watches the group of drunkards leave. It certainly won’t be the last encounter tonight.

The bricks of Court Street lead Athens’ night owls, and day drinkers down the iconic road lined with bars. But, before walking into their favorite Court Street establishments and ordering their favorite drinks, they must interact with a bartender. And in many cases, that bartender is a woman.

With about 20 bars in the local area, each featuring several female employees pouring the beverages, there are plenty of personal, tell-all stories from the women bartenders’ perspective on Court Street. Just as each establishment differs from the others, each woman’s experience varies, and she has her own story to tell.

IMG_1779Tori Simokov, an Ohio University senior, took her resume to every bar on Court Street 14 months ago seeking a job. After receiving Simokov’s resume, cover letter and attached photo, The Pigskin hired her. Coming from a serving background at Cantina Laredo and Hooters in her hometown, Simokov learned to transition her skills from a Columbus server to an Athens bartender at the 38 North Court Street bar and grill.

“In order to be a bartender, you have to be adaptable, work long hours, stay on your feet all day, get very little sleep, and deal with all different kinds of customers,” Simokov said. “You have to be able to multitask.” Workers not only make drinks but they cut fruit, clean the bar, clean dishware, fetch refills and make sure people get their food at some places.

Before Simokov whips up Pigskin’s signature Black Widow drink or her own signature Hammerhead cocktail — a Barcardi Mango with Strawberry Pucker, Sprite and pineapple juice mixture — she gives tips for people to be good customers on Court
Street:

  1. Do not raise your hand or tap your credit card or money on the bar or scream anyone’s name to get a drink.
  2. Rule of thumb for tipping: $1 per drink that you order.
  3. It’s fine if you order five waters, but that takes a lot of time to do. Just give a $1 for that.
  4. Don’t be an asshole if you have to wait for a little bit.
  5. Don’t order Bloody Marys at night: “People do that a lot and it takes a long time to make, and who the hell even does that?”
  6. “Don’t try and get me to buy you a drink or give you a free drink. Also, don’t ask for a free drink if you spilled yours. If I spill your drink, I’ll give you another one, but if you spill your drink, I’m not giving you another one.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 5.41.53 PMAfter working her first HOUmecoming weekend as Pigskin’s beer tub girl, Simokov came across a tweet from OU Crushes, a popular Twitter account where people anonymously submit their crushes, the following day. An Ohio University alum with an American Express Black Card wanted to take Simokov, the “tall, gorgeous, blond bartender at Pigskin” on a trip to Paris via his private jet. ”Simokov found the tweet so ridiculous and far-fetched that it was hilarious, she said. “It was funny and random.” Simokov’s boyfriend joked and tweeted back, “Babe I’d give this guy a chance if I were you. The coolest place I can afford to take you is Funbarn.”

Another woman who is in the Athens bartending scene is Ohio University student Laura Baker. With three years experience working at Pawpurr’s, Baker loves being involved with other students and people her age. “It’s kind of like partying for your job.”

Regardless of the good or the bad, customers contribute to the lady bartenders’ experiences through giving tips. On an average night, Baker will walk away with $180-$300 in tips. On a special Athens weekends (i.e. Dads Weekend, HallOUween, HOUmecoming), Baker will take home between $400-$600. “I’m able to pay the bills, that’s for sure.”

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Along with tipping, customers shape bartenders’ overall experiences. Baker has been in a positive atmosphere where a guy who was “dancing and having a great time” spilled a drink on himself on the establishment’s wooden stage and yelled, “I love Pawpurr’s!”

“Seeing our customers have fun makes us have fun,” Baker said.

Sometimes when customers are having a great time, they’ll hit on Baker or use various terms of endearment. From being addressed as “babe, honey, and sugar,” Baker admits this happens to her and to women bartenders in general. Guys tend to ask for Baker’s number, which sometimes puts her “in an awkward situation.” However, she has her tactics of avoiding giving her number away to male customers. She says when she’s not equally interested in a customer, she tells him that she doesn’t give her number away at work but tells him in a “nice way” that he knows where to find her or she tells customers she’s at Pawpurr’s to work and not to date.

Aside from male customers flirting with women bartenders, Baker has witnessed female customers hitting on fellow male co-workers. Girls are more affected by comments than guys, but Baker hears girls who have liquor courage talk about Pawpurr’s male staff in a sexual manner, she said.

“Girls try and push up their boobs and lean over the bar to the guy bartenders. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Girls also say things like “He’s so hot” or “I want to take him home tonight.”

On the other hand, Baker has encountered not-so positive situations from behind the bar. One “creepy” customer in his mid-20s made Baker so uncomfortable that she had to switch sides of the bar because he looked Baker up and down, kept licking his lips and constantly watched her as she worked, she said.

“Let people know they crossed the line in a nice way because you don’t want to lose customers,” Baker said, “and you also don’t want to put up with their shit.”

Another incident when a customer crossed the line — the line being too much alcohol — was when a female customer passed out in one of Pawpurr’s bathroom stalls after closing time.

“I went to go clean the bathrooms and saw her. I went up to her and said, ‘Hey it’s time to go. Do you have a friend for me to call for you?’ You could tell she was blacked out because her pants were down and she basically fell asleep on the toilet,” Baker said. Baker offered to help the intoxicated woman call a friend. The female said she was fine, and Baker still wonders to this day if the woman made it home okay.

Baker gives her two cents on what people should do to be a great customer, along with understanding the proper bar etiquette on Court Street:

  1. Do tip: It doesn’t have to be a lot. At the end of the night those quarters add up.
  2. Don’t shake your money in their faces: ”As long as you have your money out, I create a mental line in my head of who is next in line.”
  3. Don’t be rude.
  4. Don’t whistle at them: “I’m not a dog, and I don’t appreciate that.”
  5. Order the same drinks or shots together with your friends even if you’re paying separately: “It gets you your drink faster and saves us time.”
  6. If you plan on ordering several rounds of drinks or shots and you all want to pay separately, it’s easier for you to each buy a round rather than paying individually for each shot in each round.
  7. Don’t complain about prices: “It’s so cheap in Athens.”
  8. Have fun!

What about shaping the customer’s experience? Pawpurr’s customer and OU senior Mike Geise thinks there are qualities women bartenders should have before he orders a drink from them.

“They should be firm, but kind. They shouldn’t be afraid to throw someone out or ask the door or floor guys to step in and handle someone,” said Geise. “Also, the bar comes first before your friends. It is a job still.”

Specifically, Geise enjoys ordering drinks from Baker, his favorite bartender, when she’s working behind Pawburr’s bar.

“Laura is engaging and makes the meanest Jack and Coke in town,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt that her looks match an incredible personality.”

Jumping to another opinion, junior Josh Wilking, an avid CI customer, likes when female bartenders are friendly, play music everyone can sing along to, are fair to customers and are good-looking. One particular bartender who has Wilking’s favorite attributes is Abby Rechel at the CI.

“She is my favorite bartender now because we have been friends for a few years. She is super nice and always plays great music,” he said.

Baker believes her fellow bartenders should be friendly, work fast, and always be themselves. “Don’t let people walk all over you,” Baker said. “Have some backbone.”

IMG_1622Still learning the tricks of the trade, the Pub bartender Katie Derr is considered the rookie since she’s fairly new to the bartending scene with only about five months of experience. Even though she is new, she has worked as a server with Buffalo Wild Wings since she has been 16 years old. She takes her restaurant-bar serving experience and brings her knowledge to the Pub.

However, coming from a serving environment, Derr did something bartenders should never do.

“One time when I was working at the Pub, someone wanted a draft beer when we were changing the kegs. I told the customer that it would just be a minute so he could sit down in the booth and I’d bring it to him,” Derr said. “I went to go give it to him and my manager asked what I was doing. He said, ‘You never leave the bar because they come up to you. You’re not a server here.’”

Derr soon realized she needed to act differently when it comes to serving the customers at a bar compared to the serving philosophy at a restaurant.

“It’s all about serving the customer [at Buffalo Wild Wings] but at the Pub the customers come to and you’re doing them a favor by getting them drinks.”

Since bartenders do customers a favor by making drinks for them, Derr thinks every customer should live by a few of her guidelines:

  1. Say “please” and “thank you.”
  2. Tip well.
  3. Have patience.
  4. Smile and be happy.
  5. Be respectful.

Even if customers do not always follow the suggested guidelines, these lady bartenders of Court Street still appreciate their jobs related to Ohio University’s party school atmosphere.

“It is really easy to do, fast-paced and keeps you busy,” Simokov said. “You get out without being out. Instead of going out and spending all of your money and getting violently drunk, you get to stay behind the bar and make a ton of money and see all of your friends at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

“[Bartending at Pawpurr’s] will be the greatest job of my entire life. There’s a deep connection with the people I work with. … It’s a great experience that I’ll be able to carry with me for the rest of my life.”