4 bars, 1 campus, no good options

It’s 8 p.m. on Thursday night. Do you know where you’re supposed to be? That’s right. The Cheerful Tortoise for dollar beer night. As you walk into the dimly lit sports bar, you’re first repulsed by the $3 cover charge and 49ers décor, but then you remember it’s also $2 wing night, and you let the gross red and gold colors and ridiculous cover charge fade into the background. Except, wait, something is off. As you order your beer the waitress tells you it’s…$2 dollars?

Don’t panic just yet. If you’re not a frequent patron of Cheerful than you should now that they have a buddy bar, which is just a section of the main bar that’s partitioned off. Starting at 8 p.m., the buddy bar serves two kegs that rotate weekly that are $1, as well as $1 domestic beers. At the main bar, every beer on tap is $2. So it’s not really dollar beer night if you want something other than cheap domestic beer or whatever the kegs are dishing out.

A new policy that I find to be ridiculous is that it doesn’t matter when you’ve entered the establishment—either before 8 p.m. or after­—they will still charge you a $3 cover fee. So don’t think you can beat the system by getting in before 8 p.m. When you put the $3 cover fee and potentially $2 beer together, you’re really paying $5 at what’s supposed to be dollar beer night.

As brilliant as this concept is, Cheerful is not my first pick for bars around Portland State. It’s usually packed (especially on dollar beer night), and let’s just say the cleanliness could be better. But when you look at your options around PSU, you’re not really left with much to choose from.

If you’re over 21, not only are the choices for bars with cheap drinks around school limited, but the ambiance is also seriously lacking. Sure, PSU is located downtown and the targeted audience isn’t necessarily just college students, but you’d think there would be more options in terms of watering holes within a 1-mile radius.

Shouldn’t these businesses be catering more to their audience: mid-20s students on low budgets? And seeing that PSU is a commuter school, I, for one, wouldn’t mind a cheap beer after class before hopping on the MAX.

First, there’s Rogue Hall. As much as I love BLTs and Honey Kolsch beer, Rogue is going to break my bank. You’d think they would offer some kind of student discount, if not one night per week when their food and drinks are discounted. One perk would have to be the endless supply of board games they offer. But seriously, Rogue, if you’re going to be located on a college campus, you could do more to offer your audience a reason to come in for a visit.

Oh, McMenamins. How I so love your Ruby Ale and tots, especially during happy hour. But let’s be honest, this is not the best McMenamins to attend. Unlike some of the other locations, there aren’t any couches, pool tables or a better scene overall. Besides the nice patio area, which is only really accessible when the sun’s out, there’s not much to it besides booths and a bar. If PSU’s location had comfy chairs or a pool table, I know I’d be spending lots more time there, whether to study with a pint or hang out on a Friday night. It’s like they made it as minimal as possible and didn’t think about the fact that they could make so much more money if they catered to students and gave them a place to hang out.

OK, Pizza Schmizza I will give kudos for having a bomb happy hour and a full bar. Other bars on campus could learn a thing or two about pricing from you guys, but there’s nothing really else about you that screams you’re worth going back to. The pizza is meh and the ambiance is just like any other sports bar.

Let’s not forget the five months First National Tap House was open. Without any warning to the employees, upper management or any sign of financial struggle, First National Tap House shut their doors. No, their prices were not student friendly, but the environment was clean and lively, and the drinks were on-point, making the few extra dollars definitely worth it. And on Sunday their happy hour was all day! Hopefully something cheaper but just as nice will pop up soon.

And those are the only bars on campus. It’s pathetic, really. There are only four bars on a campus of nearly 30,000 students. With any luck, something that’s more student friendly will open up soon.