By Raksheen Ayaz
Drinking at a bar is one of America’s favorite pastimes. It is a potent mix of longing for acceptance, youth and alcohol. Behaviors that are unacceptable elsewhere are allowed and expected when the clock strikes 9 p.m. — when the bars open for business.
On almost any given night, men, women, students and young professionals can be found scattered around University Avenue and its intersecting streets.
With several bars competing for the attention of students and locals, the prices are low. A convenient location, right across from campus, makes Midtown Gainesville busy at all times.
Many venues are restaurants by day and bars by night. Three of these — Copper Monkey, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and 101 Cantina — are venues in Midtown that want you coming hungry during the day and thirsty at night.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is popular on Thursdays for Penny Wine nights, when a glass of wine costs a penny.
Penny Wine night is popular among college students. House drafts are $1, and house pitchers are $5.
“It’s not the most profitable shift we have, but it’s a way for us to stay relevant in the community,” Chris Walker, general manager of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s said.
Courtney Nunez, lead bartender at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, makes more money from tips than from her part-time internship, she said.
According to Nunez, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s makes about $3,000 in profit by closing time on Thursdays.
About 400 people attend on a good night, and on a slow one — like during the summer — the night still draws up to 200, Walker said.
The most profitable days are home football game days. Away games and NFL games are shown at the bar, and they tend to bring a greater-than-usual crowd, he said.
During game days there is a specific, uncomplicated menu with food like hot dogs, burgers and chicken wings on offer.
“We’re not full like a Chili’s or Carrabba’s, but we’re not getting rid of Penny Wine,” Walker said.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s makes most of its profit from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to midnight, according to Walker.
Despite its reputation for being a bustling bar on Thursday nights, it’s mainly a family dining experience. Kids eat free on Tuesdays, Walker said.
Copper Monkey Restaurant & Pub
Copper Monkey is a place to eat and drink on a late night. With its comfy booths, it’s more of a sit-down restaurant with a more relaxed atmosphere than other hectic Midtown hot spots.
Avery Johnson, general manager of Copper Monkey, said the best thing is its location right across the street from the football stadium.
It receives most business during game days as tailgaters and fans come by for a meal or a beer.
Monday — burger night — is the most profitable night. Burgers are $3 and fries are 79 cents from 6 p.m. to midnight,
One of the biggest challenges Johnson said he faces is bringing in a crowd during the summer months, when there are fewer students taking courses.
To stay competitive, Copper Monkey has never had a cover charge. The bulk of its profits come from nights where specials or promotions are offered. Specials are necessary to bring in new people, according to Johnson.
Wednesday is “Ladies Night,” when glasses of wine and double wells are $1.
About every two weeks, representatives from different liquor companies will come in and give the staff and customers free drinks. These reps are from big brands, like Captain, Crown and Silver Coast.
Copper Monkey is priced competitively to other nearby venues, though it is not the cheapest place to get drinks, Johnson said.
“We can never beat Salty Dog for some reason,” Johnson said.
Copper Monkey still profits about $40,000 a year, with its most profitable times between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Half of Copper Monkey’s customers are regulars, according to Johnson.
Regulars often order a Pickle Back, Copper Monkey’s signature shot, which is a shot of Crown chased with pickle juice. The shot was created when a staff member was experimenting in the kitchen.
“One day she thought, ‘Pickle juice,’ and it just caught on,” Johnson said.
101 Cantina is an urban Mexican restaurant with a long tequila bar and a terrace with a Tiki bar out back. The atmosphere is reminiscent of island or South Beach venues.
Cantina opened in 2009 and is vibrant while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere — dress up or dress down. Cantina recently received national exposure on the reality show “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?”
Bars in Gainesville can be crowded with college students, but Cantina also draws a wide variety of professionals and a diverse group of people.
“101 Cantina doesn’t struggle as much with people coming during the summer,” Ryan Prodesky, marketing manager at 101 Management Group, said.
Cantina has food and drink specials for each day of the week.
“Specials may be important, but the ambiance, atmosphere and production of the product are just as important,” he said. “Cantina strives to stay ahead of the curve. We look at trends and what’s new in the consumer market.”
Prodesky said that Cantina evaluates its progress over time to look for any necessary changes to the food, drinks , specials or promotions. They are not currently planning to make changes to any specials.
Cantina offers several exclusive margaritas, with selections such as the Black Raspberry Margarita and Cadillac Margarita.