BY LILY REAVIS ’21
The new Cochary Pub & Kitchen, opened on Sept. 3 in Blanchard Hall, serves a collection of local beers and wines, all of which are available to any community members of legal drinking age. Barbara LaFleur, supervisor of the coffee bar and pub, is excited about the prospect of visitors from the surrounding area. “I hope that, because we’re offering a really good selection of local beer and wine, that people will come from off-campus and hang out and really enjoy the things we’re offering,” she said.
Currently, the pub and kitchen is only open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. Beginning on Friday, Sept. 14, the pub will begin operating under normal hours — 8 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 5:30 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.
So far, “very few” students have ordered alcohol at the pub. “There’s a very small group of students actually allowed to drink so far on campus,” LaFleur said. The pub has seen more faculty members than students, according to LaFleur. “I saw a professor one afternoon who was sitting here with a wine talking to a student. I want to see more of that,” she said.
However, not everyone feels the same as LaFleur. Many students hold reservations about alcohol being served on campus, and for various different reasons.
“I am hoping girls can conduct themselves well and do not get too drunk,” said Kristin Ho ’19. I do not wish to hear them shout or scream on campus after getting wasted.” She added that she hoped the pub would provide a safer and potentially cheaper option for students of age to obtain alcohol on campus.
Some expressed discomfort with the presence of this kind of an atmosphere in a school setting, worried the lines between social and academic spaces may become blurred. “The fact that we can now ‘grab a beer with our professors’ kind of weirds me out,” said Katie Cashin ’19.
After commenting that she was “rattled” in the Sept. 6 edition of the Mount Holyoke News, Victoria Parrish ’19 replied “I’m very rattled” when asked for further comment.
Despite various student concerns, several members of the community are excited for the new pub.
LaFleur, as well as others in Dining Services, hope that Cochary Pub & Kitchen will serve as a comfortable community area. While a few colleges nearby serve alcohol, Mount Holyoke’s is the first on-campus pub that is open late and on weekends.
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst has an operational pub within the campus center which is open exclusively to people aged 21 or older. The “U-Pub” is only open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. UMass, Amherst also has a liquor license for catering purposes.
Smith and Hampshire Colleges do not serve alcohol on campus and do not currently have public plans to change that.
Amherst College also has a pub opening this week. According to Rebecca Hurlburt, an office assistant for Amherst’s Dining Services, the College has never served alcohol before. The new pub is part of a renovation project on Schwemm’s Coffee House, an already popular late-night spot. Like at Cochary Pub & Kitchen, alcohol may be served to anyone over 21 when Schwemm’s reopens.
Cochary Pub & Kitchen management hope that people from the five-college area will visit Mount Holyoke, considering the lack of student-friendly pubs on nearby campuses. LaFleur said, “We’re here so that the students can bring other people in.” She claimed that the pub’s purpose is to create a shared social spot on campus, but not necessarily to keep students here over the weekend. “It’s a nice, quiet visiting place in here,” she said.
Sophie Desnoyers ’19 recently began working at the Cochary Pub & Kitchen. “I’m more worried about people coming to campus Saturday nights, but I don’t think it’ll be too bad,” she said. “The pub doesn’t have that kind of space and setting for wild stuff to happen.”
Cochary staff are prepared to combat underage drinking. “I really don’t think we’re going to see a big problem with [fake IDs], but we do have a reader,” said LaFleur. All customers who order alcohol need to present one form of identification, preferably a driver’s license.
Cochary Pub & Kitchen will begin operating under normal hours this Friday, Sept. 4. LaFleur described the Friday —the first night that the pub will stay open until midnight — as “the big ka-boom,” adding that she hoped to see a large turnout of students, faculty and other community members.
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that the first-ever legal sale of alcohol occurred on Sept. 3, 2018. This was incorrect.