Flats, Kenyon’s much-anticipated student-run bar, has postponed its opening day, which was originally intended to be Halloween weekend. The student leaders now hope to open by the end of the fall semester. This setback is due to complications with their liquor license, which was delayed four to six weeks by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control (DOLC).
Flats was first conceived of in 2021 by co-founders Delaney Gallagher ’23 and James Loveland ’22, who were inspired while working Senior Week for the Class of 2021. Gallagher said they envisioned a student-run bar that would be able to fill the spaces in campus life left behind by the pandemic, during which the frequency of all-campus events sharply decreased. The rural location of Kenyon’s campus also heightened the need for more nightlife opportunities. Gallagher elaborated that not many businesses or organizations are able to regularly host social events every weekend.
Flats planned to time the approval of their liquor license in order to open by Oct. 28, but were notified by the DOLC that their application for their liquor license had been delayed. “There was a complication in the process that we did not foresee happening, and we were notified rather late by the Ohio Liquor Board that it was going to take an additional four to six weeks,” Gallagher said.
Flats was informed of this complication on Oct. 15, putting the new estimated opening date sometime in mid-November. However, Gallagher believes that Flats will likely be open closer to December, around finals week. Because Flats is working with AVI, their liquor license must be approved through AVI instead of directly through Flats. “We’re cautiously optimistic we’re going to open by the end of the semester,” Gallagher said. “Worst case scenario, we have a grand opening when everyone gets back in the second semester.”
Despite the delay, the founders of Flats are finding success in other aspects of business operations, particularly the student hiring process. “I was expecting forty applicants, and we nearly doubled that,” Gallagher said. The amount of student anticipation has excited the Flats management for when they eventually open, and has motivated them to reconsider previous staff roles. The student leaders now plan not to hire bouncers and instead will have bartenders check IDs before serving alcohol, so that students under the age of 21 can enter the space. Flats intends to create an open environment for the whole student body, and they’re hopeful that these policy changes will encourage that.
While students may be understandably disappointed by the delay Flats is experiencing, the founders of Flats remain optimistic about the future. “I’ve waited two years for this idea to come to fruition. I’m fine waiting four to six weeks,” Gallagher said. “The fact that this is happening at all is its own little miracle. Be patient. It’s happening.”