Three Stater reporters explore nine Kent bars

Brewhouse Pub

Kent’s home for Keystone


Above all other words, Keystone is synonymous with Brewhouse Pub, located on Water Street.

With 49-cent draughts of Keystone Light and $1.99 pitchers poured down the waiting throats of college students nightly, it becomes obvious the Brewhouse has earned the right to its name.

“It’s fun. It’s cheap. You can get drunk here,” said Katlin Rossi, senior psychology major and Brewhouse bartender.

The cheapest bomb specials in Kent accompany the Keystone, with 99-cent grape, cherry and peach bombs every day.

“Bombs and Keystone,” said junior business major and Brewhouse regular Dan Karchefsky, summarizing what the bar’s drinking crowd is all about.

Cheap beer wasn’t always the first thing that came to mind when thinking about the Brewhouse. Fights were a frequent occurrence until a dress code was put in place. Overly baggy shirts and sports jerseys were some of the banned articles.

For a cover charge of $5, people between the ages of 18 and 21 can get into the Brewhouse – but don’t think they can get away with drinking underage. The bar uses wristbands to identify those under 21, and for those who attempt to get creative and have someone of age get their beer, be cautioned: The bar has gone as far as putting bouncers outside bathrooms on occasion to intercept wristband-swapping.

For the non-drinking crowd, the Brewhouse often opens its dance floor and features karaoke Thursdays. Guitar Hero tournaments have previously occurred every Tuesday night and may be returning in the fall, Rossi said.

Brewhouse Pub

244 N. Water St., (330) 678-2774

Monday through Saturday: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Sunday: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

18 and over.

-Will Wells

Buffalo Wild Wings

The one that started it all

Welcome to the original.

Located near the end of the downtown bar district, Kent’s Buffalo Wild Wings, also known as BW3’s or B-Dubs, was the first restaurant in the now-national chain. It currently serves as a day and night spot for a wide variety of both college students and locals alike.

“Everybody’s here at some time,” manager Zach Ehret said. “It’s definitely a family atmosphere during the day, but it does a complete 180 at night.”

For the drinkers, Buffalo Wild Wings has 18 beers on tap, including some craft brews and seasonals. The place gets packed, and on many Friday and Saturday nights, “you can’t even move in here,” Ehret said.

The bar boasts the biggest of the big screens in Kent and frequently holds Guitar Hero tournaments on Thursdays for its patrons, giving the video game-savvy drinkers an outlet for their talents.

Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the nightspots in Kent that those of any age can frequently patronize. Underage can enter the bar before 8 p.m. to eat and watch sports, but after 9 p.m. the bar only admits patrons over the age of 21.

Twice a week, the bar runs specials on its signature wings, with 35-cent traditional wings Tuesdays and 50-cent boneless wings Thursdays.

The bar also subscribes to the NFL Sunday Ticket and broadcasts nearly every NFL game during football season. College football also fuels Buffalo Wild Wings in the fall, and on some Saturdays, Ohio State Buckeye fans pack the place to standing-room-only capacity.

“The giant TVs make the game,” said former Kent State student Adam Holmes.

B-Dubs has also started to showcase live music on its patio Sunday afternoons and has featured local musicians such as The Speedbumps.

Buffalo Wild Wings

227 Franklin Ave.

(330) 678-9464

Sunday through Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.

All ages are permitted until 8 p.m. By 9 p.m. the bar becomes strictly 21 and over.

-Will Wells


Cheap food, fun for everyone

Looking for a study break midweek? Students can find food and entertainment that won’t break the bank at Digger’s Bar & Grill on Mantua Street.

With a friendly staff, Digger’s offers daily food and drink specials in a casual environment.

Expect a crowd on Thursday for Jimmy Buffet night. The $1 cheeseburgers and the special prices on Coronas and margaritas suit students’ tight budgets.

Also, there is never a dull moment Wednesdays when students sing their favorite songs during karaoke from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Bartender Ryan Scheler said many students become regular customers at Digger’s after their first visit.

“A lot of kids come down for the first time to see if what they heard about the burgers and beers is true,” Scheler said. “After they realize they can have fun, meet other people their age and spend $10 on a whole evening out, they’re hooked.”

Digger’s Bar & Grill

802 N. Mantua St.

(330) 677-3444

Monday through Saturday: 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday: 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

18 and over.

– Jessie Marks


Where everybody knows your name

Settled between Ray’s Place and the Venice Café, Dominick’s is downtown Kent’s bar for those who want something a little more like “Cheers,” instead of the deafening music and staggering drunks that sometimes invade other establishments.

“It’s a more mature bar, but not necessarily by age,” Dominick’s bartender Nathan Poluga said. “It’s obvious that we don’t have a bouncer for a reason. There’s no need.”

The family-owned-and-operated Dominick’s fills the chill, sports-and-pool niche downtown. The bar has four pool tables and offers complimentary games for its patrons Tuesdays and Thursdays. The clientele tend to walk the line between college students and locals, making Dominick’s a watering hole where it’s difficult to feel out of place.

The bar staff at Dominick’s takes great pride in the establishment’s jukebox selection, which includes everything “from Sinatra to every Tool album – stuff where you’re gonna hear something good every time,” Poluga said. He describes Dominick’s as “a great, laid-back, rock ‘n’ roll bar.”

Dominick’s has 10 beers on tap, including craft beers from breweries such as Great Lakes. Cherry and grape bombs are always on special for $2.50, “and they’re not the itty-bitty ones,” bartender Todd Markham said.

A recently built patio has attracted more people to the bar over the summer, and despite the increased traffic, it’s worth noting that the Dominick’s bathrooms remain pristine – a Herculean task that seemed impossible for many Kent bars in recent years.

“You can actually sit on a toilet in this place without contracting 20 diseases,” Kent resident Adam Cory said.


147 Franklin Ave., (330) 677-1119,

Monday through Sunday: 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., 21 and over only.

-Will Wells

The Loft

Peanuts Abound

The crunch of beer-soaked peanut shells underfoot greets anyone brave enough to push through the throngs of weekend drinkers at The Loft, located at the corner of Franklin and Main streets.

The popular Kent watering hole usually sports lines out the door Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights thanks to its cheap beer and dive-bar – but in a good way — vibe.

The bar acts as a “revolving door” for the drinkers of Kent, said manager Bob “Zac” Zacher, who has been around The Loft in one capacity or another since 1980.

Zacher said there are five Kent bars that share a core clientele because they don’t lean toward a specific type of crowd: Brewhouse Pub, Ray’s Place, Mug’s Brew Pub, Water Street Tavern and The Loft. Drunks and soon-to-be drunks start out at Brewhouse and make their way north, with The Loft typically falling in the middle of the order.

The Loft has cheap beer specials that alternate between Bud Light and Miller Lite every month. Pitchers of the monthly beer cost $6.

The crowd at The Loft contains everything from popped collars to piercings and tattoos, but the one defining characteristic is that slightly inebriated stagger, seen when a person is flirting with his or her liquor threshold.

The Loft

112 W. Main St., (330) 678-0391,

Monday through Sunday: 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.,

21 and over only.

-Will Wells

Professor’s Pub

Kent’s only ‘custom bar experience’

Ever wanted to plug an iPod into house speakers while drinking a craft beer and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze as friends play checkers and Wii Bowling?

Welcome to Professor’s Pub.

“We’re the alternative to other bars around here,” said Michael Arndt, Professor’s Pub cook and bartender.

Owner Brad Powell opened the Pub in 2007 as an establishment that lets patrons go outside the realm of the standard bar activities of drinking, darts, pool and vomiting.

“I opened the space up for whatever someone would like to do,” Powell said. “They make the space their own.”

The establishment expanded from a simple bar to a multi-faceted entertainment hub over the course of the last year.

“Mixtape Mondays” have been one of the Pub’s strongest weekly events. Monday nights at 9 p.m., patrons can bring their iPods to plug into the sound system, creating a personalized jukebox atmosphere not found anywhere else in Kent.

Customers can also access YouTube on the bar’s central big-screen LCD TV and create video playlists, further extending the reaches of Powell’s “custom bar experience” concept.

“This is really a place for people who’ve always bitched about other places in Kent and wanted to create their own bar,” customer Heather Donleavy said.

The aspect of customization even bleeds into the men’s room, where Powell painted the walls black and set out chalk for patrons to create their own washable graffiti.

While the Pub stocks Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller Lite, its real focus is on craft beers. Breweries such as Rogue, New Holland, Great Lakes, Flying Dog and Young’s are mainstays of the beer selection, so patrons can widen their horizons.

“You’ll definitely have a palate for good beer after drinking here,” Arndt said.

Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m., Professor’s Pub holds beer tastings so people can get the chance to sample the bar’s coolers. Patrons can pick five beer samples for $5.

While Professor’s Pub doesn’t have Bud on tap like other bars, customers can still get their money’s worth. A dark beer such as New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk is a little more expensive, but with 9 percent alcohol by volume, it really gives drinkers more alcohol for their buck.

Kent State students who are still waiting for their 21st birthday will still find a lot waiting for them at Professor’s Pub. Before 9 p.m., it acts as part coffee shop, part restaurant.

Fair trade coffee is the drink du jour before 9 p.m., and it often accompanies one of the Pub’s signature wraps or salads. The menu stays mostly on the health-conscious track, but steak and bacon concoctions such as “The Paladin” are also served.

Powell also plans on bringing in a sushi chef to the Pub on Saturdays to vary the weekend menu.

“I’m just throwing a bunch of irons in the fire,” Powell said. “I’ll throw something else at them (if people aren’t interested).”

Professor’s Pub

110 E. Main St., (330) 968-4965, Monday through Sunday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., All ages are allowed from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 21 and over after 9 p.m.

-Will Wells


‘Higher Drinking in downtown Kent’

Those who want “higher drinking” with their higher education may find what they’re looking for at Riverside Wine and Imports, located on North Mantua Street, just north of downtown.

For those over 21, Riverside offers more than 60 wines by the glass and a rotating selection of 14 craft and microbrewed beers on draft. Staples of the beer selection include the potent-yet-smooth New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk and the Gonzo Imperial Porter.

Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller Lite aren’t served at Riverside, so those coming to drink should come with an open mind and an even more open palate, workers say.

“It’s a really distinct experience,” bartender Eric Schroeder said.

The bar hosts monthly wine tastings where often the wine maker will come to speak about his or her product while the public gets the opportunity to try it. Thus, the bar serves as an educational experience at times for both the wine beginner and the wine savvy.

“If you’ve never drank wine in your life, you can find something you like,” Schroeder said. “If you’ve been drinking wine for 20 years, you can find something you like. We’ve really got a little bit for everyone.”

Riverside also features live music on its newly built patio and has a policy of only seeking out regional acts in order to support local music. Jazz is the most typical mainstay, but the bar has also featured blues and folk artists such as local musician John Markovic.

In addition to its bar environment, Riverside also acts as a retailer for wine by the bottle. It also sells beer in individual bottles, packs and cases.

Those who haven’t yet hit 21 can still find plenty of entertainment at Riverside on the culinary side of the spectrum. People under 21 are allowed into the bar until 6 p.m. to experience the “simple and savory” side of the menu.

The kitchen holds everything a person might expect from a wine and craft beer-centric establishment: gourmet cheeses, salads, soups and breads. After experiencing Riverside’s food, beer nuts and pretzels may just not cut it.


911 N. Mantua St., (330) 677-4400,

Monday through Sunday: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.,

All ages are permitted until 6 p.m. daily.

21 and over after 6 p.m.

-Will Wells

Robin Hood

A place for music

Band members, roadies, employees and early guests moved about the Robin Hood, doing their jobs. They mingled with friends while Nirvana played on the house speakers before a recent show.

Robin Hood regular Rick Myers said he comes not only for the people, but for the music and the atmosphere.

Scott Imhoff, one of the Robin Hood’s owners, said the Robin Hood has live music for all ages on weekends.

The bar has a wide variety of music, ranging from rock and hip-hop to live DJs and dance parties. It also has a wide variety of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

The Robin Hood began offering a full-scale kitchen named Zou’s Grill the second week of August.

Zou’s Grill serves American and Lebanese food. It delivers to all areas of Kent and the borders of Ravenna and Brimfield, said Zou Kahwaji, a university chef and the namesake of the grill.

“Everything is made fresh daily,” Kahwaji said.

Robin Hood

503 E. Main St., (330) 678-9300,

Wednesday through Sunday: Opens at 5 p.m.

The Robin Hood is for ages 18 and up.

-David Ranucci

Water Street Tavern

For any and all

Frat boy. Emo. Jock. Mod.


The act of classifying Water Street Tavern, formerly known as Glory Days, by its core demographic can be summed up in one word: impossible.

With its drink selection, live music and Kent State-centric atmosphere, Water Street Tavern truly panders to everyone.

“We’re definitely pretty diverse,” general manager Brett Sinning said. “It’s townie by day, college by night. It’s a place for everybody.”

Live music tends to draw the bar’s most diverse crowds. Kent bands Winslow and Skinny are staples of the venue, sometimes drawing crowds into the bar from outside the Kent area.

Starting this fall, the under-21 crowd will get its first taste of Water Street Tavern. The bar will be opening its expansion, which will contain 15 flat screen TVs, a kitchen that will specialize in wings and barbecue and the Kent bar scene’s only rooftop patio.

Those under 21 will be allowed into the establishment during the afternoon and early evening. Water Street Tavern will also be expanding its hours for football season, catering to Buckeye fans early on Saturdays and Browns backers on Sundays.

Water Street Tavern

132 S. Water St., (330) 677-0700, Monday through Friday: 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Saturday: 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Sunday: closed.

21 and up until expansion opens.

-Will Wells