Bar Wars

In Harvard Square, Watering Holes Woo Students With Specials and Gimmicks

After reaping advantages from the airline's heated price wars, Harvard undergraduates are profiting this fall from a similarly healthy competition among the Square's bars and cafes.

Bars such as the Crimson Sports Grille and the Bow and Arrow Club are offering students drink specials. Watering holes like the Spaghetti Club and the Black Rose tempt students with free food.

Most bar managers and owners deny any sort of competitive spirit. They say each establishment is a distinct environment and draws different segments of the Cambridge population.

"The senior class goes back and forth," says Harvey Goodman, manager of the Bow and Arrow. "Although there is a lot of competition, we all find our own little place."

"Every bar has its own niche," says Sports Grille General Manager Preston E. Owen. "There are 1600 [Harvard] seniors alone. Every bar in the Square couldn't hold them all."


"People will go where they feel the most comfortable," he adds.

But the bars' marketing tactics tell a different story. Many bars in the Square are actively wooing the fickle college crowd by appealing to their pocket books.

The Sports Grille, located next to Janus Theater, is popular among Harvard undergraduates not only because of its relaxed, collegiate atmosphere. The bar boasts an inexpensive menu and drink specials like a pitcher of Busch for $4.

The Grille also features a trivia game that pits patrons against those of other bars across the continent.

The Grille attracts mainly college students because they advertise solely in Harvard publications, Owen says.

"We're after Harvard students," he says.

Next month, the Grille plans to host the Bud Lite Girls, a high testosterone event not unlike last spring's Jagermeister Girls event.

Directly across the street and competing for the same segment of the population is the Boathouse. The rather dark and subterranean bar is popular among athletes and Kirkland House residents because it sponsors Harvard sporting events, says owner John C. Brown.

The Boathouse also holds parties during the holidays and at the Head of the Charles and Oktoberfest. Although at least one source has indicated that the Boathouse has lost its lease and will close, Brown denies such rumors.

The Bow and Arrow Club, across the Square on Bow Street, draws the same college crowd and offers comparable specials as the Grille and Boathouse.

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