Best Happy Hour: Water Street Tavern


Kent State alumni Kat Kasee, Erika Knopsnider and Erin Duffy enjoy the $2 happy hour in Water Street Tavern on April 9, 2014.

Mark Oprea


Water Street Tavern

It’s hard to think of Happy Hour at the Water Street Tavern without a big number two in front of it — as the Tavern runs a seven-days-a-week special on liquor, bottled and draft beer, all for $2.

After Owner Mike Beder began expanding his Water Street Tavern in 2008, he knew the bar’s appeal could easily be two-fold: college students and Kent townies. The low-cost Happy Hour, then, he said, is a likable addition for both crowds. Beder said he feels limited by the phrase “college bar.”

“I wouldn’t want to pigeonhole us,” he said. “We like to cater to different people — and mainly at different times.”

Usually, after Happy Hour ends (around 9 p.m.), Beder’s bar is handed over to students. Come Tuesdays, the Water Street Tavern caters to women most of all via its Ladies Night specials — packed with an array of colorful drinks and cocktails.

An often-seen face behind the counter on Tuesday nights, Manager Dante Campbell, said he’s not a stranger to his most popular sale: vodka gummy bears.

“I’ll admit it,” he said. “I kind of like them.”


Bar 145

A relative newcomer on the Kent bar-restaurant scene, Bar 145 holds the crown for being the only gastropub in town featuring “Stack-Your-Own” burgers — and the only place you can get a sandwich with both a fried egg and duck confit.

It’s Happy Hour menu isn’t bad either. With two dollars off flatbread sandwiches, and half-off fries and breaded green beans. On Wednesdays, burgers run for $5 alongside equally-priced Martinis.

In order to take advantage of its morning opening time, Manager Jemar Johnson said that he’s taking Bar 145 into brunch territory soon, including a Salmon & Chorizo Club and Breakfast Panini.


Ray’s Place, 157 Lounge, Buffalo Wild Wings

Frequent diners of Ray’s Place are most likely well-attuned to its lengthy bottled and draft beer menu, including some on its Happy Hour menu — Futher Muckers, as of recently, along with other domestic and craft brews.

But, as Owner Charlie Thomas likes to say: “In this business, you have to serve food.”

And such explains Ray’s daily Happy Hour specials, like their famous $7.50 “Smokin’ Monday” dishes — the most popular being their pulled pork sandwich, a Ray’s staple, including its burgers and trendy sweet potato fries. And for competition’s sake: cherry bombs, vodka cocktails and lowered domestics often make the Happy Hour menu.

Known to many Kent State students as Downtown Kent’s singular EDM club/sushi bar of its kind, 157 Lounge seems to be lesser known for its daily food and drink specials.

Martini adherents rejoice: 157 has the largest selection among Kent nightlife, with 26 flavors on the menu, including Espresso, Almond Joy (like the candy bar) and the lusty “X-rated” — all going for $5 during happy hour.

It’s eponymous “157” martini, comprised of Three Olives Mango Vodka, orange juice, mango puree and pineapple juice, is its most popular, said 157 Manager Devin McCallion.

“Maybe because it’s the name of the restaurant,” he said. “But, that aside, it’s still one of my favorites.”

Although the 2013 opening of fusion restaurant Newdle Bar threatened 157 as a downtown sushi monopoly, McCallion, who’s been manager since 2010, said its wide, colorful selection and its half-price “Kamikaze Thursdays” make it worthy competition.

With its Bernie Kosar jerseys and 53 flatscreen TVs lining the walls, Buffalo Wild Wings is a definite sports-bar haven on Main Street. Other than its popular UFC and MLB broadcasts on the 7-by-40 feet screen, BW3 reps a pretty decent happy hour.

From Monday to Thursday, select “Talls and Shorts” are on special, including the house-selected “First Round Draft Pick.”

From 3 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, BW3 hosts its Pint Night special, featuring a long list of drafts for about $2, including higher-quality brews like Stone IPA, Speed Merchant and Guinness.

Still, Bartender Jason McIntyre said most of his customers stick to traditional, domestic beers, with the special in mind. “I’m a Budweiser guy myself,” he said. “So I guess I’m not one to talk.”

Contact Mark Oprea at [email protected].