Reflections on the Hark Pub Opening

BY KELLY BROWN

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The evening quiet that once reigned in the lower level of the Harkness Commons, broken only by the occasional Chopin-plunking pianist, is no more. The Hark Pub now operates there five nights a week, serving up beer, wine, specialty coffee and munchies to Harvard Law students and staff.

The pub was the brainchild of the Dean of Students Office and Law School Council (LSC) representatives, who have long contemplated and discussed the idea of selling beer on campus. Several surveys of the student body, conducted by the Dean of Students Office, showed overwhelming support for the opening of a bar on campus. Law students have long begrudged the business school its bar.

Hundreds attended the grand opening of the Hark Pub on February 2, 2006, when the Dean of Students Office sponsored a kickoff event, distributing free drink tickets. HLCentral’s weekly Bar Review followed from 9:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. “We served more than 400 people the first hour of the first night,” said Ellen Cosgrove, Dean of Students, in an e-mail.

Some events have proved to be popular among students. Turnout was high for a happy hour sponsored by TaxHelp and the California Club’s speed dating program. But in the days following the opening, the flow of students to the pub has slowed to a trickle. The crowds have been quite sparse lately.

“On regular nights, it’s dead,” lamented Matthew Dattwyler, a Sodexho employee who works at the Hark Pub from Monday through Thursday. “People are so ingrained [sic] in using this place to study.”

He suggested that students might be less inclined to crack books after 7 p.m. if more people availed themselves of the DVD player, big screen television, and jukebox in the room adjacent to the Pub. The equipment is kept locked. Students simply need to request a key from a Pub employee.

“When this place was designed it was supposed to be more of a social space,” Dattwyler said. They put so much money into the entertainment system.”

At any hour of the day or night, students can be found reading on the lower level of the Hark. The new pub will certainly displace some of these individuals.

But Christina Seif, a 1L who visited the Hark Pub for the first time on Tuesday night, said that the benefits of the pub outweighed any inconvenience to Hark studiers.

“If you need a quiet environment, you can always go to Langdell,” she said. Most students agreed that the prices-about three dollars for a beer or a glass of wine-were great, and said they liked the convenience.

“It’s a relaxing environment,” said 1L Monee Takla. “It’s convenient and if you feel like you need a break, you can just come here.”

The pub offers several varieties of red and white wine, bottled beer, and also serves up a weekly draft, but is not licensed to sell hard liquor. The Pub also features a new cappuccino and espresso machine. All non-alcoholic beverages are also available during the day.

The food menu features traditional pub fare: nachos and cheese, chicken fingers, and French fries. For the health conscious, there are options which include grilled chicken salad. Workers prepare the food upstairs in the kitchen in the main Hark cafeteria, and then bring it down to patrons, as the kiosk downstairs does not have cooking capabilities.

Cosgrove is optimistic about the venue’s future. “I think the Pub is becoming exactly what we hoped it would be,” she said. “Now that the cappuccino machine is in and the pub menu is better publicized, I expect we’ll see more people dropping by in the evening.”

The Hark Pub accepts Crimson cash. Cash tips are not solicited, but are welcome. Students with suggestions for improving the pub should email dos@law.harvard.edu.

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