Athens’ annual Green Beer Day will be back Wednesday. After almost a year of anticipation, bar owners and bartenders are excited to see Ohio University students continue the longtime tradition.
The tradition began when OU was on a quarter system instead of semesters, and St. Patrick’s Day fell during spring break. The students decided to celebrate early and cheer with green beer.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, local bars still saw crowds line up last year to commemorate the day. Bar owners and workers still expect large crowds for this year, especially with fewer COVID-19 restrictions for attendees.
David Cornwell, owner of The J Bar, 41 N. Court St.; Courtside Pizza, 85 N. Court St.; and North End Kitchen and Bar 77 N. Court St., remembered how Green Beer Day initially started and how students celebrated prior to COVID-19. He said the atmosphere really set the mood of the tradition.
“So, kind of the (fun) of it is the weather starting to get nice, so that plays a part into it,” Cornwell said. “People are more in the mood to go have some fun when the sun’s out.”
Cornwell also predicted the celebration this year will look similar to celebrations in years past, especially with the end of the Athens mask mandate.
“I think (it’s) going to be a normal Green Beer Day, which is good,” Cornwell said. “There’s not a lot of consistency on how different businesses were running their operation around COVID. We’re as close to normal as we’ve been in two years.”
The J Bar will open early at noon, and North End Kitchen and Bar will open at 2 p.m. The latter will also offer a special food menu, including starters, burritos, quesadillas and churros.
Shawn Ritchie, one of the owners of Lucky’s Sports Tavern, 11 N. Court St., said Green Beer Day is a “knock-off St. Patrick’s Day” and that students go all out for this tradition.
“There’s going to be plenty of green beer of different varieties flowing, and everyone gets out early,” Ritchie said. “So, usually by noon, there are many people out. It’s just similar to a Saturday night in town.”
Ritchie predicted it will be a normal Green Beer Day despite falling on Ash Wednesday. He also said this year’s celebration would be similar to last year’s, as many students still went to the bars during the pandemic.
“Last year, we were back to full capacity for Green Beer Day,” Ritchie said. “Masks were supposed to be worn, but the (case) numbers were good.”
Besides the regular green beer, the special item Lucky’s Sport Tavern will feature is a green liquor pitcher.
The C.I., 32 N. Court St., will be offering specials such as $1 green jello shots, modifying any drink to be made green and even passing out special Green Beer Day merchandise. The C.I. will also be opening at 2 p.m.
Hunter Antritt, a bartender at the C.I., said he is expecting the bar to be extremely busy like past celebrations. He did not work at C.I. for past Green Beer Days, but he said he always had fun in the past.
“It’s always a really fun time,” Antritt said. “The energy’s really great. People are just always in a good mood.”
Antritt also said the weather might bring in a later crowd for the day, as students will want to be outside in the warm weather. He also said the removal of COVID-19 may bring in a later crowd because there’s not a curfew.
“People aren’t coming out as early as they did during COVID,” Antritt said. “I think things are getting back to the 2018, 2019 era, where it’s really busy at night instead of earlier in the day.”