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Norwich students venture out for nightlife thrills

What are you doing in Northfield this Friday night?

“Northfield is a college town that is not acting like one,” said Hugh McLaughlin, a 1987 Norwich graduate whose company, Ballybreen Ventures, is planning to identify more nightlife options for students.

Norwich University is a school like few others. Unlike many other universities that have numerous bars, clubs and a plethora of other activities, Northfield is a quiet town with not much going on, students say. This has led students to go on a hunt to find new places to spend Friday and Saturday nights.

Tommy Hopkins, 22, a junior cadet criminal justice major from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is a Good Measurefanatic.

“My friends and I go every Monday,” Hopkins said. “It’s almost a tradition. We love doing karaoke.”

He appreciates the atmosphere, and it is a “good local place with great employees.” The only thing he would change is if it could be open later on the weekends.

Many students travel an hour from Norwich University all the way to Burlington for a night out. Aidan Coffey, 22, a senior cadet criminal justice major from Long Island, New York is one of them. The University of Vermont is in Burlington.

“It’s a real college atmosphere,” Coffey said. “The bars are open until 2 a.m., and there’s always food around.”

However, the trip itself is less than ideal.

“The travel time is annoying,” he said. “It takes an hour or so to get there. We usually get back at 4 a.m.”

The Pub in Williamstown, on the other hand, is a short ride from campus, and many students have tried it.

“It’s okay,” said Mason McMahon, 22, a senior civilian construction management major from Norwich, Connecticut. “They have $3 pitchers, $1 hot dogs and $2 tacos”.

Again, however, students have found limitations.

“The crowd is not crazy about Norwich students,” McMahon said. “They don’t seem to like us.”

Matt Hannon, 21, a senior cadet construction management major from Milford, New Hampshire, and his friends recently went on a self-run pub crawl that left from Norwich University.

“We were really just looking for a new spot and a way to make a night out of it,” Hannon said. “We wanted to try to find a couple of new places. We didn’t really find a legit new place but places we would definitely go again.”

The distances between each spot were an issue, though.

“You can’t do a pub crawl in Vermont,” he said. “It was more of a pub fly as it was 20 minutes between each bar.”

The Den in Williston seems to have a lot of potential, and Rob DiBiasio, 22, a senior cadet cybersecurity major from Londonderry, New Hampshire, is a big advocate, especially since it is in Williston, which is only 15 minutes away.

DiBiasio has a great relationship with the owner, whom he described as a great guy, and believes that it could be a great spot for students. The Den has pool nights on Wednesdays, line dancing on Thursdays, DJs on Fridays, and live bands on Saturdays.

“It is super nice inside and has a large dancefloor,” DiBiasio said. “We put up flyers with the name and a QR Code that brought you to the directions. We also included the specials.”

Norwich students used to have another location a few short miles from campus. The Rustic was a bar in Northfield that many used to enjoy. It closed in 2021.

“It was a cheap place to get a beer with a karaoke machine and pool tables, which was cool,” said Jack Anzalone, 26, a former cadet political science major from Ridgewood, New Jersey. “It wasn’t as good as good as people make it be. It was more of a community bar.”

It also closed early as well.

“It definitely wasn’t open past midnight,” he said. “But I am sad it closed. We had some good memories in there.”

Students can soon look forward to at least one more option in Northfield. McLaughlin and Ballybreen Ventures are taking the property at 70 Depot Square and opening a Folino’s Pizza, a chain with locations in Shelburne, downtown Burlington, and Williston.

“It is not the drinking spot Norwich students are looking for, but a great spot to bring their parents,” McLaughlin said. “Northfield needs more of those.”

It is expected to open by Labor Day.

Hopefully, Folino’s Pizza can provide a slice of college town life Norwich students are looking for.

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    Bill WilliamsonApr 21, 2024 at 10:42 am

    Northfield doesn’t have many business because they don’t survive. While it seems like a bulletproof business opportunity to open stores in a college town, Norwich students don’t spend enough to support them. In the 10 years I’ve lived here I’ve seen at least 6 business come and fail. Also, great to hear that a chain restaurant is opening up shop right next to the already established pizza place. I’m sure that will be excellent for the local business scene