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Court Street bars diversify to draw in customers

In 2013, public relations marketer and then student Briagenn Adams wrote “10 Reasons Ohio University Is the Best Party School in the United States,” an article counting down the most important arguments for OU’s party school credentials. 

Adams briefly describes several events like Homecoming and Welcome Weekend, but she also starts off the list with something simultaneously more tangible and emblematic.

“The red bricks that define Ohio University are famous, and Court Street is chockablock full of them,” she wrote. “You don’t have to be rich (or even 21) to enjoy Court Street and all its glory; you just have to be thirsty.”

Despite the fact that OU has now gone three years without making it onto the Princeton Review’s top party school list, Court Street still stands. There are approximately 23 bars on the half-mile stretch of land surrounding Court Street, and that means owners have to do a lot more than just serve alcohol to attract students.

“Lucky’s is a sports bar, but that’s not really what we’re best known for,” said Jennifer Cochran, a bartender who works at Lucky’s Sports Tavern located directly on Court Street. 

It’s a small space, shaped almost like a really wide hallway. Its wood-finish walls are painted a deep maroon, and it’s black and white checkered floor conjures up images of the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks converted into a cozy little pub. The entire side of the room is flanked by a large bar table above which sits a kaleidoscope of liquor bottles.

Decoratively speaking, nothing about Lucky’s makes it look significantly different compared to any of the other bars on Court Street. With a handful of words changed, that description could fit Red Brick Tavern or The C.I.

But people don’t go to bars for the décor. According to an article by CNBC, millennials  prioritize “experiential services” over material goods more than any previous generation. That creates an avenue for places like Pyramids Hookah & Bar on Mill Street. By providing a novel experience of smoking from a hookah, the establishment can gain customers who might otherwise just walk to bars closer to campus.

The other side of experiential coin is the incentive for bars to attract a large group of people as quickly as possible. Some groups find it awkward when they arrive at a bar too early, and they have to share a mostly empty room with a handful of strangers. Some students wait until later in the night to go to avoid this scenario.

“I like to have fun when the game is on,”  said Reese Little, a freshman studying communication sciences and disorders. “If I walk down the street and I see a crazy bar that has the game on, then I’ll go to that one.”

But going in when one sees a crazy party means other people had to get there first, and to incentivize large groups of patrons to arrive at specific times, bars usually offer deals. Lucky’s, for example, offers $5 pitchers of liquor on Wednesday nights, a trait that has made it famous for broke college students. Similarly, Red Brick offers $1 dollar drinks every night, but specifically from 6 to 9 p.m.


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