Campus bars keep on chuggin’

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BarsMarquette’s campus bars are hoping their business doesn’t mirror the weather patterns as the calendar shifts into the winter months.

A possible concern for the bars into the winter months is whether the class of 2010 will match the drinking habits of last year’s senior class. Because students might be focusing more on schoolwork and have not yet turned 21, that could contribute to a potential downturn.

“This senior class doesn’t seem to be drinking as much as last year’s,” said Kathleen Scott, a senior in the College of Communication and bartender Caffrey’s Pub. “The thing is people will be turning 21 more as the year goes on. The juniors as well as the seniors will be in the bars.”

Another concern Caffrey’s Pub and Murphy’s Irish Pub face is that students aren’t spending as much because of the state of the economy.

Despite the economy, Mike Vitucci, owner of both Caffrey’s and Murphy’s, said business actually tends to increase as the weather drops into below-freezing temperatures.

“We always say, when the weather gets worse, business gets better,” Vitucci said. “We’re pretty consistent overall.  Some specials kind of get old and have to be reinvented.”

Overall U.S. beer sales are down 1.3 percent for the first six months of 2009, according to Brewers Association, a trade group of craft brewers.

Steve Byers, adjunct instructor in the College of Communication and a former beer beat reporter for the Milwaukee Journal, said students might be cutting down on both spending and binge drinking, and that could account for any business decline.

On campus, Caffrey’s was rumored to have a slower-than-usual September on its most popular night, Thursday’s Mug Night, where students can buy 14-ounce mugs for $5 and refills for $1. Workers and students at the bar have dispelled that rumor.

Caffrey’s manager Doug Daul said September sees more students focusing on school restarting.

“We haven’t seen much of a change, but can tell a lot more (students) are studying,” Daul said. “Certain nights are busier than others, not much of a change saleswise or anything like that.”

Daul said Caffrey’s usually starts off with a “big bang” the week before school. He said business goes down for a short time and then gradually increases throughout the semester.

Joe Kuntz, manager of Murphy’s, also said students still find ways to go out, and business has been about the same as last year.  He said the economy has had some effect, but nothing substantial.

Scott said after working the last two Mug Nights that the turnout has substantially increased. She also said Mug Night is still Caffrey’s busiest night, and a campus favorite.

“People are getting used to school and their schedules, and they set aside more library time than bar time,” she said. “They’ll decide that bar time is more important later on.”

Marquette students have still frequented the bars and plan to do more as the semester progresses.

“I go to the bars a good amount and Caffrey’s is by far my bar of choice on campus,” said David Hohs, a senior in the College of Business Administration. “The people are the best of all the bars on campus and the atmosphere is a lot more fun than Murphy’s or Hegarty’s, in my opinion.”

Stephanie Guertin, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the night offers an opportunity to get away from school and get an early start to the weekend. She said it is as much about talking as it is about drinking.

“I think Mug Nights are popular especially because people are so busy and consumed with life that they have very little time in their weeks to socialize and talk with friends,” she said.

Elsewhere on campus, business is fairly stable. Frank Michael, a senior in the College of Communication and bartender and student manager at the Union Sports Annex, said numbers there are tracking similarly to last school year.

“Right now it’s as much as last year, here,” he said. “It’s the same crowd and same business.”

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