Long lines and long anticipated reunions: Welcome Weekend sees increased bar traffic, revenue

Amy Kessler

For Bar 145 in downtown Kent, “(Kent State’s) Welcome Weekend is like a holiday,” said Marena Toth, the front-of-house manger at the establishment.

This is no exception to the student population that attends Kent State. Last weekend, the bars downtown were filled with students wanting to reunite with good friends after a long summer apart.

Bar 145 — and other downtown Kent establishments — had to prepare for a busy event like Welcome Weekend.

“All summer we were all low on alcohol, so we got to put in a huge order of alcohol and get everything in stock for the weekend,” Toth said. “Food was stocked up, and we had as much staff as we could, including bartenders and servers.”

Toth also said that Bar 145’s bar revenue spiked over Welcome Weekend.

“It was the highest sales of the summer,” Toth said.

Ray’s Place also had to have extra staff on hand.

“We staff up a lot, since we have been down the road before,” said Charlie Thomas, owner of Ray’s Place. “Seems like you are never really prepared, but you do your best.”

Due to the number of patrons expected at the bars over the weekend, Kelsey Molls, a senior middle childhood education major, headed downtown early.

“My friends and I knew it would be smart to go early,” Molls said. “So we got downtown around 10:30 p.m. or 10:45 p.m. and got right in (to the bars). But later on as the night went on, the lines and everything got longer and you (could) tell it took awhile (for people) to get in.”

Jenn Coffey, senior communication studies major, had to pass up going into a couple bars due to the traffic waiting to get inside.

“We were planning on going to Ray’s, The Loft, Water Street (Tavern) and Bar 145, but the lines were too long at Ray’s and Loft, so we just went to Water Street and Bar 145,” Coffey said.

Since there was a larger crowd than usual at the bars—and a smaller staff working— students had to accommodate to the wait.

“It took us, like, 10 to 15 minutes to get drinks, so we ended up getting two at a time (and) we didn’t have to keep waiting,” Coffey said.

Even though the lines at the bars were long, that didn’t stop Anhelica Rodriguez, a senior fashion merchandising major, from having fun with her friends.

“It was a little annoying to be pushing through crowds, but I was just overly excited to see everyone back in Kent,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been abroad for the last eight months, so being able to see familiar faces and catch up with people made my entire night.”

Toth said that Welcome Weekend had a much larger crowd compared to other holidays in Kent, such as Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.

“(On) Halloween and St. Patty’s, we don’t get a big draw,” Toth said. “Welcome Weekend and Homecoming are big days.”

For Ray’s Place, it’s a different story.

“It’s a little different because everyone is coming back and moving in, and you have the parents,” Thomas said. “So it’s kind of different, but it’s much better than a regular weekend. Homecoming is definitely our busiest and best days of the year. This weekend was very busy and good food business.”

Contact Amy Kessler at [email protected].