BY RACHEL TAYLOR
Gull Life Editor
Brew River has been a hot spot for college kids since the restaurant opened its doors in 2000.
Especially on Thursday nights, when students from Salisbury University, Wor-Wic Community College and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore flood the restaurant nestled on the Wicomico River for its weekly “College Night.”
“It has been a staple for us for ever since I can remember,” said Wesley Hanna, partnering owner of Brew River. “We’ve been open now for 15 years and Thursdays have always been our college night.”
Preparing for college night is different than preparing for a normal night at the bar. The three different bars at Brew River were stocked full with rail liquors, which most drinks were made from throughout the night.
“A lot of [the people at] college night will drink rail drinks. You know, the base vodka, gin and tonics, rum and cokes, stuff like that,” said Kyle Wheatley, a veteran bartender at Brew River. “We stock Fireball as much as we can as well as plastic cups because we don’t have time to wash glass wear.”
Along with stocking the bar, making sure that enough staff is on hand is key to ensure that the bar will run smoothly.
“As far as preparation goes, there is staffing and ordering just to make sure we have enough product to serve to the influx of crowds that comes in,” Hanna said.
For a special Halloween edition of the tradition, students went all out dressing up as pop icons, athletes or different characters hoping to win prize money in a competitive costume contest on Halloween.
“We make it a Halloween college night and it’s one of the best nights of the year, in my opinion,” Hanna said. “It’s fun and everyone seems to dress up and get involved.”
Some of the finalists included a group of pumpkins, a cup of Easy Mac, “Cheech and Chong” and the cast of “Orange is the New Black.”
Unlike regular nights at Brew River, bartenders like Katie Green work at a different pace on college night to keep customers happy.
“I love it,” Green said. “It’s fast-paced, we’re super busy and the time really flies by.”
The faster pace allows for more business on Thursday night than on other nights. Part of the additional income that comes into the bar includes the $5 cover charge customers pay at the entrance.
“I think college night is worth it, definitely, for one night because it brings in a lot more money,” Green said. “We take cover for sometimes 1,700 people and it’s just good to have nights like that where we can compete with other bars that have similar nights.”
Those additional 1,700 people make college night a popular choice, not just for the patrons, but also for the employees.
“I’ve seen sales reports and in four hours you’re making tens of thousands of dollars,” Wheatley said. “So it’s a great income for them and it’s nice and easy to keep up with.”
Hanna says it’s important college night creates a connection between college students and the local Salisbury community.
“With the college being so close we like to cater to the students to have a fun environment and a party environment,” Hanna said. “As a business it is lucrative to have a night that caters to the students and the popularity of it brings in other crowds in.”