Water Street Tavern receives $20,000 a month from Barstool Fund


Water Street Tavern at 132 S Water St.

Brynne Mann Reporter

The Water Street Tavern will receive $20,000 a month from the Barstool Sports Fund to support the small business through the pandemic.

Barstool Sports is a sports and pop culture blog founded by Dave Portnoy that posts news and viral content daily. He created the Barstool Fund in December 2020 to raise money for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Mike Beder, the owner of the Water Street Tavern, has felt the financial burden brought on by the pandemic. Local bars and restaurants have been forced to adapt to social-distancing practices that have reduced occupancy and business. 

“The Barstool Fund represents peace of mind to me,” Beder said after receiving the call in January. “Barstool commits to its recipients month after month until we are allowed to return to normal. Just a huge relief.” 

In a video feature for the fund’s website, Beder discusses the impacts of being shut down, only being open for outside dining and more safety mandates that have affected business over the past year. Despite the loss of business, he said he committed to paying his employees a minimum of $12 an hour, plus tips. 

Beder has been assisting his employees throughout this pandemic since the reopening of the business. His employees use the word “family” when describing their relationships, Beder said, which is another reason this fund means so much to him. 

Tom Wilke, Kent’s economic development director, knows the hospitality industry, especially bars, has been hit especially hard. 

“Mike Beder is an outstanding entrepreneur. I can’t think of a more deserving individual than Mike to receive this source of funding, which I am sure will be an important component in allowing his business to survive,” Wilke said. 

As a Kent State alumnus, Beder has spent the past 20 years in downtown Kent running businesses, like Venice Café and Franklin Hotel Bar, that are staples for locals and students. He founded Water Street Tavern when he was 23 years old after graduating from Kent State. 

The Water Street Tavern is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Beder is ready to return to normal business, which includes a full bar, live music and the “fun and excitement” that go with a bar atmosphere.

“Water Street Tavern is going to be for KSU students and the Kent community for a long time,” Beder said. “The more we work together, the sooner we can return to the good time we are accustomed to.”

Brynne Mann covers the City of Kent. Contact her at [email protected].