Sign for the Draft Pub
Image: Bardia Boomer/Fulcrum.
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Students have been left with little alternatives and a freezing winter walk

It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to close their doors. The University of Ottawa bar scene is no exception.

While some bars had to close down entirely, others are waiting for their revival. However, in some cases, it seems there’s very little hope that this will happen. A recent Reddit post from a U of O grad laments the sudden lack of student bars, where there used to be a variety of options.

In present-day 2022, if a student wanted to grab a drink after class, the options are quite limited. The corners opposite campus along King Edward Avenue are home to Father and Sons, the University Bar and Grill, and No Forks Given. Regardless, with over 40,000 in-person students, winning the Hunger Games seems easier than securing a table during peak hours.   

Sign outside No Forks Given
No Forks Given is a new restaurant at 191 Rue Somerset St. E. Bardia Boomer/Fulcrum.

Back in the day, the career space in the University Centre used to be 1848, a student bar where students could grab a pint in between classes. Imagine walking out of a dreadful, three-hour lecture and meeting some friends right next door — the dream! With $2 drinks on Tuesdays, Karaoke nights, and live music right in the heart of campus, 1848 was a prime spot to enjoy an afternoon.

Alas, as written in a 2016 article by the Fulcrum, the former Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) released information regarding how costly these student bars can be. Having 1848’s last Instagram post in 2019 and their Facebook page erased completely, 1848 has unfortunately served its last tap. 

Banner outside Nostalgica
Nostalgica management told the Fulcrum in 2021 they hope to reopen when a COVID-19 outbreak is no longer a risk. Image: Bardia Boomer/Fulcrum.

Another popular bar that has yet to reopen is Nostalgica Pub and Beer Garden. Located at 601 Cumberland, its colourful lights, 27 beer taps and live events once made this bar a sensation. Nevertheless, the once-popular student bar is eerily quiet. Nostalgica was known for its café scene in the daytime and lively events at night. Vegan options, elaborate dishes, and great drinks at an affordable price — as well as discounts for graduate students — made this place a U of O staple.

Nostalgica remains closed, but hope for a reopening is not entirely lost. It still carries its domain, keeps up a semi-active social media presence, has an active phone number, and is still featured on the University’s official website.

Legend has it, pre-pandemic, Minto Sports Complex had a pub inside! Imagine how fun it would be to go watch a hockey game and talk about it afterward over a pint. Unfortunately for newer students, the pandemic took a toll on a number of social places in the University. With its last Instagram post being from well over 6 years ago, and the website domain being on sale, it seems unlikely like Gee-Gees will be getting The Draft Pub back anytime soon. 

Our last nostalgic spot is the Royal Oak, once located on Laurier street. This quintessential English pub was the perfect spot for a night out. Its typical bar meals combined with traditional English food made for a great spot to grab a drink and destress. Although the nearby spot is closed, The Royal Oak has many other locations around Ottawa and Whitby

Nonetheless, the U of O has a few great locations that are near and dear to its students. Father and Sons is one popular choice — whether it’s for a cheap hungover breakfast or Wednesday night Karaoke. One very underrated spot near the U of O is the University Bar and Grill on 196 Somerset St E, which offers affordable food and drinks and has a very cozy vibe, making this spot ideal for any students looking for a good time.