Hannah Clayman and Elizabeth Martino
Over the past few years, it seems as though the number of bars in Keene has more than doubled. With so many different places to choose from, it makes sense that we provide you here with an idea of what each one has to offer, whether you’re into craft beers, loud music and dancing, or a quiet place to relax after class with friends. What is important to remember is to always be responsible while drinking: 21+ is a no-nonsense rule with all the bars in Keene.
Leaving from campus and heading down Main Street, Cobblestone Ale House is the first bar on the left: a place sure to be found suitable for any New England sports enthusiast. With a small, cozy atmosphere, it’s also a great place to meet up with friends or make new ones.
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Cobblestone, the newest bar to downtown Keene, established in 2009, offers a number of great deals to be taken advantage of during Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox games on both drinks and food. A full menu offers customers a variety of things to choose from, all which are sure to satisfy.
For Chris Jager, a bartender for the past two years at Cobblestone, Keene State College students are an important component to what gives Cobblestone the friendly atmosphere for which it’s known. “[This bar] has a family atmosphere; our customers aren’t just customers anymore, they’re our friends,” Jager said.
And although sometimes it can get crowded, it’s always a destination for those who want to grab a good bite to eat, a beer and sit to enjoy a game.
Next, across Main Street situated on the corner of Main and Eagle Court, Lab ‘n’ Lager is a bar that offers a comfortable atmosphere, friendly bartenders, a full menu, and a big venue for pool, darts, and even karaoke on Wednesday nights. Although the drink specials aren’t as extensive as at some of the other bars in Keene, the connections students make with the staff keeps them coming back for more.
“Lab is my favorite bar in Keene because going to Lab is like going to hang out with good friends. The employees at Lab are the reason why I love it so much,” Adrienne Itri said, a senior at Keene State College.
As soon as you’re greeted by the bouncer at the door, who is both friendly and efficient at keeping the line moving, an enticing aroma of pizza draws you in.
With a food take-out counter at the back of the bar where you can grab a snack and mingle with friends, Lab has a relaxed atmosphere that many students crave following a hard week of class.
Now, before getting too far down Main Street, it’s important to remember Penuche’s Ale House, located down Marlboro Street. Although not the largest of Keene’s bars, Penuche’s offers a great variety of drinks, friendly staff that go out of their way to please their customers, and the occasional promotional giveaway.
The oldest bar in Keene, having been established in 1951, Penuche’s offers a rich history of the town of Keene. The walls are full of memories of KSC students and alumni, etchings of initials and images which encapsulate the moments of semesters past.
Todd Tousley, the very proud, long-time owner of Penuche’s, is an alumnus of KSC, and it has been his long-standing wish to bring Keene State College students back into his bar in full force.
“People keep coming back here for the history and the tradition,” Tousley said. “I think that this bar is the friendliest place in town. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are very important to me.” One of those traditions is Tuesday night’s “Beat the Clock,” with all draft beers starting at 75 cents at 8 p.m., going up 25 cents every half hour.
Getting back to Main Street, and taking a detour down Emerald Street, McCue’s is the first establishment on the left.
McCue’s offers students different types of entertainment every night of the week, whether it be a pong tournament, pool night, darts, live band, or club night. A part of the bar scene for the past seven years, Thursdays at McCue’s are the most popular with Keene State College students for the club night, which is hosted by a live DJ.
A member of the McCue’s staff for the past seven years, Kelly Darling-Snow said that McCue’s is known for offering a “variety of entertainment” for the college community. With a big venue, including a giant room of pool tables, McCue’s is a great place to grab a drink, play a game, and socialize with members of the community.
Kilkenny Pub, located around the corner from TD Bank on Main Street, is hard to miss: its expansive outdoor patio makes it a great place to hang out and enjoy the company of friends when the sun is shining.
Established in 1996, making it the second oldest bar in Keene, Kilkenny’s offers students a different atmosphere for hanging out and grabbing a drink, with a laid-back feel and plenty of space inside to socialize. Weekends at Kilkenny’s, says Dewey Dussault, a bartender at Kilkenny’s for the past two years, offer great drink specials for students with a limited budget. It’s great deals and pub-like feel keep students coming back. For Amy McEwen, a senior at Keene State College, “ [Kilkenny’s offers] a great crowd for people who don’t like to bump and grind in heels and dresses.”
Located a street over from Kilkenny’s, Railroad Tavern is known for its live DJ and knowledgeable bar staff. Although the bar has lost some of its business due to the rise in popularity of some of the newer bars in Keene, it is the hope of the faithful staff and new management to bring students and community members back to Railroad.
With new promotions, raffles, and an updated food menu, bartender and resident DJ Stacey Massiah says Railroad offers the “late night atmosphere” off of which crowds tend to feed. With a larger separate dance room, with a stage and full DJ booth, Railroad has all the necessary means to offer students a great dance-party atmosphere.
Last, but certainly not least, located on the left hand side of the traffic circle at the head of Main Street, Vendetta is a bar unlike any of the others in Keene.
With a relaxed, intimate atmosphere, Vendetta caters to the student who craves an American craft beer, or who has a serious taste for hand-rolled, sustainable sushi.
Because of its higher-end offerings, Vendetta may be unable to offer cheap deals on drinks, but the quality of the products more than makes up for that.
As four-year bartender J.J. Conboy pointed out, the nine percent IPA is a crowd favorite. For Tom Green, a senior at Keene State, “the selection of micro brews is what makes Vendetta unique.”
All of the bars in Keene provide the 21+ student with unique atmospheres for grabbing a drink and hanging out with friends, each one different from the next.
Although it is nice to be able to relax and unwind after a stressful week of classes, it is the hope of campus groups, such as the Advocates for Healthy Communities, to remind students of the necessity to remain safe. Elizabeth Demski, vice president of the Advocates, reminds students that what’s important is to “know your limit, know who you’re with, and never leave an open drink unattended.” The group’s recent campaign asked students to count their drinks to make sure they weren’t over-indulging, which can happen, especially when drinks are inexpensive and accessible to students. “Although there are deals at bars,” Demski said, “what is important is to not abuse this power.”
All of the bars mentioned in the above article can be found on the web, where their weekly menus and specials may be found, as well as the Advocates for Healthy Communities club, an organization here on the Keene State College campus.
Hannah Clayman and Elizabeth Martino can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.