Professors Pub breaks away from Kent bar scene

James Wenstrup drives from Solon to Kent three times a week for one reason: beer. But the Kent State alumnus doesn’t drive 20 miles to quench his thirst at just any bar. Wenstrup doesn’t drink just any beer, either. He prefers beer from Professors Pub and Cafe.

“They have one of the best beer selections with reasonable prices for premium beers,” he said.

Professors, which opened Nov. 1 and is located at 110 E. Main St., serves at least 50 different types of beer, including some seasonals. It rotates a wide-range of beers from micro and craft breweries throughout the world such as Bell’s, Rogue, Stone, New Holland and Great Lakes.

“We are going to constantly cycle our beers; a lot of the beers can’t be found anywhere else in Kent,” owner Brad Powell said.

Powell admits he can’t compete with Kent’s larger bars that offer beer specials every weekend. In order to keep up, Powell chose to offer a rare beer selection.

Professors separates its beers based on quality. The graduate cooler holds premium beers such as customer favorites Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Arrogant Bastard Ale and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. The undergraduate beers include mainstream beers — Bud Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon — and tallboys.

Since opening, the pub has quickly become a haven for those looking for a more laid-back bar experience, Powell said.

“We don’t cater to any group specifically,” he said. “Professors is still defining itself.”

Michelle Montoney, community counseling graduate student and a Professors bartender, said 70 percent of the customers are already regulars.

“Those same people bring more people with them the next time they come,” she said.

Wenstrup said he used to hang out at the Robin Hood, the Zephyr and Ray’s Place, but now he likes Professors better.

“Professors has a more intellectual college bar crowd while maintaining much of the energy and enthusiasm,” he said.

The bar is open from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day and offers its customers free wireless Internet. Powell said he wants people to come during the day so he can achieve his goal of staying open 24 hours.

Powell’s original plan was to open a restaurant, but lack of space was a problem. Instead, he opened a bar that allows soloists and small acoustic acts to perform.

“Professors evolved from there,” Powell said.

The small space limited him but also allowed him to pursue a business centered around his passion: music.

“I’m able to work with the music along with doing business,” he said.

Powell’s one-room bar doesn’t have strobe lights or dance floors. He does business differently.

Two weeks ago, Professors started serving coffee, and it will have a full food menu by March.

“We serve traditional Italian espresso beverages, specialty drinks, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance coffees,” Powell said.

When the kitchen is finished, consumers can expect Professors to continue its trend.

“I wanted to do something different,” Powell said.

Professors refuses to sell pizza or French fries. Instead, Powell decided to create a menu centered around soups, salads and melts.

“If you want deep-fried food, go somewhere else,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Erica Weisburn at [email protected] and all reporter Samantha Tosado at [email protected].