After Bar 63 closed this semester, the area surrounding campus has been left with just one student bar. The lack of nightlife impacts students, the economy and crime.
With the closure of popular Thursday night student hangout Bar 63 earlier this semester, Loyola’s students face a sobering problem: a shortage of bars near the Lake Shore Campus.
Having enough nightlife is an important part of many students’ college experiences. For those who are of legal drinking age, bars are often an appealing alternative to the routine of house parties that comprise many students’ first few years at Loyola. They’re places to watch sports — now more important than ever after Loyola’s March Madness performance last year — and could benefit local businesses and promote safety by increasing foot traffic around campus at night.
Bar 63’s demise wasn’t the first time a popular student spot met its end in recent years. The Pumping Company in Edgewater closed after a fire in 2016. There’s now only one true student bar near Loyola’s campus: Bulldog Ale House.
True, there are other local watering holes students could visit — Cunneen’s on West Devon Avenue and Bruno’s and Oasis Tavern on North Sheridan Road, to name a few. But those neighborhood favorites are more popular with other Rogers Park residents than Loyola students. The lack of nightlife for thousands of Loyola undergraduates leaves the area around campus a ghost town late at night.
Only having one student bar detracts from the Loyola student experience. As Loyola continues to grow, its students will need places to hang out, unwind from the stress of classes and enjoy the myriad sporting events Loyola and the city have to offer.
This year’s incoming class was the largest in school history. Unless more bars open near campus, those students will have to endure the same fate as the classes above them, having to trek to neighborhoods such as Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park for a night out once they turn 21.
While forcing students to leave the area in pursuit of wetter neighborhoods will encourage them to experience more of the city, it denies them the opportunity to create memories at bars filled with fellow students.
The opportunity for students to make such memories is heightened — and, with it, the need for more bars — in light of Loyola’s historic Final Four appearance last year. Students camped out for hours to get spots at local bars during men’s basketball games in March; it’ll be even harder to find space at a bar this basketball season now that Bar 63 is gone.
Keeping students close to campus at night could also benefit local businesses. While the area around Loyola has become increasingly developed in recent years, most of those new storefronts aren’t open late, and most are chains.
In a 1988 Chicago Tribune article, former 49th Ward Alderman David Orr warned of this exact problem.
“We don’t want Sheridan Road to become the fast food strip for everyone who’s driving through,” Orr said. “We want the right kind of development that will serve the needs of our community.”
Sheridan Road has become exactly that: a fast food strip. Taco Bell, Insomnia Cookies, Five Guys, Subway, Blaze Pizza, IDOF, Argo Tea, Chipotle and BopNGrill are all packed into a three block strip along Sheridan.
While all those restaurants are staples for Loyola students during the day, only four of those 10 restaurants are open past 10 p.m. Taco Bell is open until 2 a.m., Insomnia Cookies is open until 3 a.m., Subway is open until midnight and Blaze Pizza is open until 11 p.m..
If there was more nightlife for students close to home, they’d spend more time and money in Rogers Park. Instead of going elsewhere for a good time, students would put their money right back into the neighborhood economy.
There’s also safety in numbers. If there was more to do by campus at night, the foot traffic could protect students from the violent crime that’s kept the neighborhood on edge in recent weeks.
Crime is an incredibly complex issue that won’t be fixed just by adding a few bars. But a study from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business found an increase in closed storefronts led to an increase in crime.
“It’s all about foot traffic,” Tom Chang, the study’s author, said. “If people are frequenting a business, then that means there are more eyes on the street, and that’s a deterrent for certain types of crime.”
With Campus Safety warning students to walk in groups, having better nightlife around campus could deter violent crime and provide more eyewitnesses when crimes occur.
It might seem trivial, but this is a pressing concern for students. For the sake of safety, fun and students’ relationships with their neighborhood, Loyola needs more bars.