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Novelist and English Professor Keith Lee Morris calls Nick’s Tavern “the professor’s bar.”

Photo Credit: Bella Higgins, Contributor

This article was written by a student of ENGL 2310: Introduction to Journalism, which is taught by Mike Pulley.

With strict quarantine restrictions in place during the prime summer season, many restaurants and bars were left with lingering battle wounds. Local Clemson businesses such as Nick’s Tavern & Deli are still feeling the aftermath.

The loss of business due to COVID-19 restrictions has threatened Nick’s ability to stay open in the fall season. Nick’s Tavern, located off of Sloan Street in downtown, will be 45 years old in February. The desire to reach this milestone has led Nick’s to start a GoFundMe page.

The GoFundMe started by Nick’s bartender, James McManus, will use the money raised for rent payments, and to help Nick’s improve the restaurant by obtaining a liquor license and better signage.

“We don’t want to have the same type of liquor business that a lot of the other bars downtown do,” said McManus. “I want to do classic cocktail type stuff like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. We are going to try to keep some higher shelf bottles stocked, but we also need the revenue from the younger crowd as well who tend to want to come in for shots or a vodka Red Bull. So, we have to figure out the right balance so that we maintain our vibe without losing revenue from people who usually come in the door.” 

Currently, the GoFundMe page has exceeded the $20,000 goal by $4,000. McManus credits the overwhelming support to Nick’s dedicated patrons who want to help, but do not feel safe going out during a pandemic. 

“We have a lot of patrons who drink here regularly that can’t drink here right now or who maybe drank here regularly 20 years ago, and when Nick’s Tavern comes across their Facebook page asking for help during this very difficult time, they give a little money to help out,” said McManus.

English Professor Johnathon Beecher-Field attributes this loyalty to Nick’s being different from other bars in the downtown Clemson area.

“I think it’s a place where people feel safe,” said Beecher-Field. “For people who sometimes feel a little bit excluded. That includes students, that includes non-Clemson affiliated people, who feel a little bit like they don’t fit in at other places.”

Another English professor, Keith Lee Morris, chose to edit his novel “The Greyhound God” at Nick’s Tavern for its professor-friendly environment, earning him a plaque placed at his favorite booth.

“Nick’s is and has been the professor’s bar, the adult bar in town in a way,” said Morris. “So, you can easily figure that there is not going to be a lot of distraction in there. It’s really easy to go in there and sit at a booth. I could get a booth to myself and people, the bartenders, owners, and everybody down there knew me, so they didn’t mind if I took up a booth even if there were other people in there.” 

Many Clemson students are also looking forward to the coming improvements, especially senior marketing major Lauren Rudolphi.

“I love that Nick’s is going to offer cocktails,” said Rudolphi. “I already loved going for the food, but I will definitely go for drinks now too.”

With COVID-19 impacting millions of people, it is heartwarming to see a community come together and support a local business during unprecedented and trying times. 

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