Share

shareI don’t feel like too many University of Iowa student think of Share when they are looking for a fun place to go and grab a few drinks. Located in the Sheraton Hotel just off the Pedmall, Share is a nice restaurant with quality food and drinks. It is also pretty expensive. However, their “Fridays with Class” drink and food specials make it more reasonable for college students on a budget.

Most of the bars in Downtown Iowa City have “Friday After Class” specials to bring patrons into the bars earlier and to spend more money. When Share opened it decided to follow suit, but took a different approach. “Fridays with Class” has $4 glasses of wine and $12 bottles of wine. There is also a menu of mixed drinks and small plates that are half price and extremely delicious.

My favorite time to go to FWC is in the early fall or late spring when you can sit outside on the patio overlooking the Pedmall. I have never been to Share during FWC or normal hours when it was too crowded or the service was too slow. The servers are always friendly, and many of them are students at the University.

I would definitely recommend Share and FWC if you were looking for a more relaxed and upscale beginning to your Friday night. It is also the perfect place if your parents are in town. Sometimes we all need a break of the regular craziness that is the Iowa City bar scene, and Share is definitely the answer to that problem.

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Bo-James

Under 21Bo-James is one of those bars that is, “just so Iowa City.” It has been around forever and for the people who actually live and are from Iowa City, it’s their hangout.

I have been to Bo-James many times and have had a few friends who have worked there over the years. If you get to know the Cohen family, who owns and runs the bar, you will always be taken care of. Wednesday and Thursday nights are the most popular with UI students because they are themed. Wednesdays are Country Night and Thursdays are Karaoke Night. Every other night the majority of patrons are local regulars.

If you are brave enough to sing karaoke, I would suggest you stick to the classics. One time I was brazen enough to do my best Missy Elliot Work It and received some interesting reactions from the crowd. 15 seconds into the song I knew it was a bad idea. Had I gone with Journey’s Don’t’ Stop Believin’ the whole bar would have been singing along with me.

Bo-James is a hangout because there are regulars who sit and hang out all day, everyday. Most of them have a favorite spot at the bar, and if you happen to be in it you will throw their day off. This has happened to me before and it’s quite awkward. As the sun sets the bar stools fill up with the employees’ friends who typically like to change the music every few minutes. Depending on their taste in music, this can be a good or a bad thing.

The two biggest draws to Bo-James are their “Big Ass Beers” which are only $3, and their burger baskets, which are delicious, and only about $6. Overall, Bo-James is a fun place with a community environment. Even at it’s busiest you are still able to sit and actually hear the friends you are having a conversation with, which can be rare in Iowa City bars.

Pints

pints 2There is something to be said about Pints. Some bars in Iowa City, it would seem, have made the decision to ignore basic customer service. Most likely, they know college students will keep coming back whether or not they feel like they are being taken care of, or being provided an experience. However, this has not been my experience with Pints. Effort and quality are two words that come to mind when I think about the bar and its patrons.

Whenever I go to Pints there are a few things I have come to expect. The bar doesn’t ever charge cover, so it is always packed. Pints is not a very large space, it is deep but not wide and moving around is very hard after 11 p.m. Basically the bar is like a long hallway, and you will constantly be moving to let people through, or excusing yourself as you interrupt conversations to get to the other side of the bar. However, this is really the only drawback in my opinion.

Once you get to the bar, even when it is extremely busy, the wait time for a bartender’s attention is never long. From what I have seen there are usually more than three bartenders working at the same time, with the same amount of bar backs. The staff is collectively dressed up, good looking, and looks like they are enjoying themselves. I never feel annoyed about tipping the bartenders at Pints.

The last thing I know I can expect when I go to Pints is that the crowd is going to look good. Call it superficial, but as someone who puts some effort into how they look before they go out, I appreciate being around other people who do the same. I also get the feeling that the majority of patrons are upperclassmen. Even though it is a college bar, I get a more mature vibe from the crowd.

So whether you are already a Pints fan or not, I would recommend that everyone check it out. Besides the great service, and well-dressed patrons the bar has twelve 42” flat screens for constant sports entertainment, and a “Bring Your Own Food” concept. You could literally order a Falbo’s pizza to the bar if you wanted. That’s awesome.

Underage University of Iowa Students indifferent to 21-Ordinance

Brothers Bar & Grill, a popular spot for underage drinking.

Brothers Bar & Grill, a popular spot for underage drinking

The 21-ordinance has not stopped underage University of Iowa students from drinking in the bars; just when and how they drink.

When the 21-only ordinance went into effect June 1, 2010, underage patrons were no longer allowed in Iowa City bars after 10 p.m. However, students have learned to take advantage of the time the law permits them.

While sitting in the Share restaurant of the Sheraton Hotel a few weekends ago I noticed an alarming number of obviously drunk students in the pedmall that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Surprised by the increase of activity I asked my friend where they all came from. After checking the time-10 p.m.-my friend joked that it was probably all the underage students who needed to leave the bars to avoid receiving PAULA tickets. (Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age)

Amy Skarnulis, a UI junior who is not 21, said she goes to the bars early and leaves at 10 p.m. before heading to a private house party.

“Whenever we go to Brothers or Sports Column, it is obvious that everyone in there is underage,” she said. “At 10 o’clock the entire bar clears out.”

Skarnulis said the use of fake identification is still a popular method for obtaining alcohol inside the bars.

Hannah*, a UI junior who recently turned 21, said she was able to enter the bars underage with the use of fake identification. During her time as an underage patron she said she didn’t think the bars cared that there were obviously underage patrons inside drinking.

“I don’t feel as if the bars are nervous to have underage kids in the bars before 10 p.m. because it means more money,” she said. “If they don’t have fake IDs then they can charge them cover at the door.”

Magen Krones, a bartender at Bo James, said the bar has taken active measures to make sure underage students cannot patronize the bar.

“We have a doorman Wednesday through Saturday checking IDs, and he doesn’t let anyone under 21 in after 8 p.m.,” she said.

Krones said every of-age patron is given a mark at the door, which is then re-checked by a waitress or bartender before they can be served alcohol.

Bo James lost its liquor license for a month in summer 2012 because of multiple instances of underage patrons after 10 p.m. Bo James’ Karaoke Night, which is popular with UI students is when Krones said it had the most problems with underage patrons trying to enter the bar.

“To make sure we don’t have any more trouble in the future every employee takes an online course called I-Pact, to make sure that we all know how to properly check IDs and make sure they aren’t fake,” she said.

While Krones said that there is no underage drinking in Bo James, she agrees with Skarnulis and Hannah that it happens often in other bars. At the same time, Krones and Hannah said they have witnessed some bars announcing that underage patrons should leave before 10 p.m.

“At brothers they sometimes announce over the speaker on Fridays that it is close to 10 p.m., and for all the underage kids to leave,” Hannah said.

Krones experienced a similar situation after a show at Blue Moose that ended at 9:30 p.m.

“After the show they said over the PA system that all the underage people should leave by 10 p.m.,” she said. “They all left without any problems, and when the police came to check out the bar they didn’t need to give any [PAULA] tickets.”

*Hannah’s last name has been removed to maintain anonymity

The Union Bar

photo source: cdn.bleacherreport.net

It would be hard to find a University of Iowa student who has not been to Union. It is smack dab in the middle of the pedmall, and is the largest bar in Iowa City. With four bars on three levels, a large dance floor, flashing lights, and decent djs the energy inside is usually on a level between crazy and mess.

I had my first experience with Union when I was visiting some friends before I decided to transfer. When we got to the dance floor I was instantly reminded of the dance clubs I went to on a spring break trip to Mexico my senior year of high school. Because I like to dance like a fool I usually have a great time there. But a lesson learned and relearned is to not overdo it on the $10 bottles of Andre they sell right next to the dance floor on Saturday nights. It is a trap and you will regret it the next morning if you and your friends all decided to buy a personal bottle and go dance the night away. I was once approached by an employee and told I was “going too hard,” and was asked to leave the bar. (That’s the nice version of the story)

However, I have found that for the same reasons I think Union is so much fun, others do not. I know many other students who have vowed to never go back, or claim they haven’t been there since their sophomore year and comment about how “trashy” or “ghetto” it is. I will agree that it looks like most of the people who frequent Union are underclassmen. This is proven by the amount of girls that will wait in line in the freezing cold without coats and wearing high heels.

Whether or not that is your scene every student or person visiting Iowa City for the nightlife should experience Union at least once. The bar’s website boasts that it is consistently ranked as one of the best parties in the USA by Playboy. And hey, the drink specials are pretty great.