In the life of a college student, money is certainly an important factor. Paying back school loans, making trips home, the random weekend excursion off campus, all of these things cost money. Pinching pennies becomes a serious lesson learned along with the weekly chemistry and philosophy texts and problem sets. But once in a while it is necessary for one to indulge and to taste the sweet luxury of dining out, and that is where Main Street of Keene provides its students with a variety of restaurants, expensive and inexpensive, exotic and local, to choose from.
Whether in the mood for a quick bite to eat with friends, or for a lengthy, romantic sit-down dinner with one’s significant other, the restaurant selection from Central Square in Keene to the traffic circle at the entrance of campus allows students to explore a strip of road boasting a variety of cuisine.
Aside from tasty food, atmosphere, for many, is a serious determining factor in where they go out to eat.
Students have many varying views, but where they seem to match up is on where they think has the best dining ambience.
Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza, located on the corner of Main and Water Street is one of the newest restaurant additions to the Main Street circuit.
For many students who have lived on campus or who are nearer to that end of the town, Ramunto’s is the place to go for yummy food and a “friendly atmosphere,” Katherine McMurray, a senior at Keene State College, said.
Staying open late on the weekend serving slices also drives in a lot of business, but its casual dining atmosphere is also a big hit.
“[Ramunto’s offers] great food and the inside feels cozy, like a bar or pub you’d find at a ski resort,” Gabriela Brodeur, also a student at KSC, said.
The live music nights and young and friendly staff also keep guests coming back for more.
Pizza has been and always will be a big hit with any college community, and so for Main Street to offer so many pizzeria options, the student population has its spread laid out in front of them. Dining out on a budget can be restricting, but not when you have so many affordable places from which to choose. Athens Pizza and Family Restaurant has a significant number of its own KSC students on staff, including Alix Macaluso, a senior at KSC.
“[Athens is] a great locally owned business, and is family owned and family friendly,” Macaluso said. With a restaurant motto like “Stop in and share a pizza with someone you love,’” that friendly atmosphere greets you right at the door.
For a quirkier vibe, students seem to flock to Fritz, the Place to Eat, a restaurant that serves hand-cut Belgian fries and panini-style sandwiches. The food is a hit with most, but it’s the atmosphere that has students coming back.
“I love Fritz because of its warm atmosphere. The dining area has cozy seating and the employees are always friendly,” Kelly Rowles, a student at KSC, said.
Its affordable, tasty food options are also a plus, along with the unique style.
“It’s a small, local place, and it has really cool decorating [and it’s] a laid back place to catch up with friends or family,” Kristen Johnson, a senior, said.
For those special nights, whether for an anniversary or birthday celebration, or to just catch up on some one-on-one time, Main Street Keene also has plenty of restaurants with intimate settings to choose from, perfect for snuggling up close and having a meal together.
Michele’s Ristorante is a fine-dining experience that has many impressed with its “Italian Dining with a California Flair,” as its web page states. For Heather Duval, a senior, the ability to go dressed up or dressed down without feeling out of place is a big plus.
“It [has] a California style with cool seats and blankets you can use. The music is great, too. [The food] can be expensive, but it’s yummy Italian and the drinks are tasty as well.”
One thing to be sure to remember: reservations are a must!
The proximity of Keene’s college campus to downtown Keene keeps students interacting with the community, and businesses are always full with students looking for a place to enjoy themselves off campus.
Main Street in Keene, from Central Square to the rotary near campus, boasts at least 14 restaurants alone, including Mexican, Italian, Asian, and Belgian cuisines, and new restaurants continue to pop up along the way; several other restaurants, not included in this figure, lie just off of the main strip, down the side streets which branch off the main thoroughfare. For those who enjoy eating out at a favorite spot, or being adventurous and trying something new, the options offered by the Keene business community are countless, and students are encouraged to try them out and find their next favorite!
All of the businesses mentioned above, as well as the other restaurants of Main Street Keene and the surrounding area are searchable on the web, having either their own homepage or having their menu featured on campusfood.com, yelp.com, or Facebook.
Hannah Clayman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org