In terms of late-night food and beverage options, Kenyon students will find themselves in limbo, at least for the duration of the fall 2018 semester.
On Sept. 20, Mark Kohlman, Kenyon’s chief business officer, announced in an email sent to students and employees that, effective immediately, Peirce Pub would be ending its Friday and Saturday night food and beverage operations after just over four semesters. AVI will still retain its liquor license for student events through spring 2019.
Originally, AVI’s commitment to operating the Pub was to end in spring 2018. In this partnership, AVI obtained a liquor license to operate the Pub and the College subsidized costs.
Wisbey said that AVI renewed its liquor license for this school year due to delays in the construction of Chilitos Fresh Mex and Margaritas in downtown Gambier.
“We committed to staying open through the fall,” Wisbey said “But the first three weeks just show that students don’t use it as it was intended, and it made more sense to close it.”
According to Kohlman’s email, the average attendance was between six to ten students on a given night, equaling about $60 in revenue. When the Pub first offered the food and beverage operations, attendance was more robust.
“The first few semesters, the sales were really quite reasonable. We were still subsidizing it, but it was a number that I was comfortable with in terms of having an option for students at night on Friday and Saturday,” Kohlman said.
Beyond just a loss in student interest, Kohlman and Wisbey attribute the Pub’s closing to an inability to reach a clientele beyond the students. Wisbey said the Pub could not be advertised to community members since it did not have its own private entrance. Kohlman said having community members patronizing a business is necessary for it to succeed in Gambier.
“When you look historically, the places that have done the best are the places that pull in people from outside of Gambier,” he said. “They have a core customer base of students and faculty and staff and Gambier residents, and they also have a base of people who come from Mount Vernon and other parts of the county.”
In the near future, Kohlman said he expects Chilitos to be this sort of base.
As for the Pub, student groups will be able to reserve the space for events with alcohol and food and the College is partnering with AVI to put on one late night event per month until Chilitos opens in the spring semester.
Despite the Pub’s closing, Kohlman said it is important for students and community members old enough to drink to have options in Gambier. Wisbey said bars with the capacity to serve a high number of people are a fixture in college towns.
“Every campus has the college bars,” he said. “I almost think that’s part of the college experience, to a point, to have that.”