April 13, 2024

By: Megan Loofbourrow
College bars inspire fierce loyalty among their patrons, whether it’s because of  the quirky bartenders,  cheap drinks, or funny bouncers. Two bars less than a mile from Wittenberg, like college bars across the country, are trying to lure new customers and keep faithful customers with promises of better times, cheaper drinks, and good company.
“Ruby’s or McMurray’s?” is the question on most students’ minds Friday and Saturday nights. Which bar offers the best value drinks, specials, activities, and music? Where will all the Wittenberg students be? Over 100 students participated in a poll that asked which bar would they rather attend, Ruby’s or McMurrays? About 67% of students said they would rather go to McMurray’s on a weekend while only one-third of students polled said they prefer Ruby’s.
“I like the facilities of McMurray’s better because I don’t enjoy dancing that much and I feel like Ruby’s is designed more for dancing and feels a little too open,” said Meghan Vodopich, a junior at Wittenberg. Ashley Berg and a number of other individuals polled said they think McMurray’s drinks were much better than Ruby’s based on their size and taste.
The general manager of McMurray’s Brian O’Neill, also a Wittenberg alumni (‘03), spoke about the new and rejuvenated McMurray’s that has been a fixture for students in the Wittenberg community for the past ten years. McMurray’s has a new atmosphere to go along with the new location. The popular pub and restaurant burned down last year and has recently reopened in the repurposed Woods-Allgier Funeral Home which is also owned by the O’Neill family. O’Neill stated that despite the unfortunate incident, the transition has been very smooth.
O’Neill says that McMurray’s, while they love their loyal Wittenberg customers, does not rely on Wittenberg students as heavily as other bars. They focus mainly on their food business, Paddy’s Pizza as well as other customers in the Springfield community. “We are a hybrid of a young and old bar,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill put substantial emphasis on the safety of the bar and its customers. Many students have complained that the “one in, one out system” and long lines have turned them away from McMurray’s but O’Neill stressed that it takes longer than usual because of their database scan and because of their maximum capacity of 200 people. “The scanner system doesn’t just check a person’s age and I.D. validity but their criminal background as well,” O’Neill said. “We don’t let just anyone in the bar…we make sure that they aren’t pedophiles or criminals in order to ensure our customer’s safety.”  According to O’Neill, the majority of McMurray’s employees have law enforcement and fire department experience, which contributes to the safety of the establishment. O’Neill also encourages students to show up a little earlier in order to avoid the long lines and waiting.
When questioned about his view of competing bars in the area, O’Neill seemed to have little to no concern. “There is room for both McMurray’s and Ruby’s,” O’Neill said, “If you run your establishment respectfully – which we (McMurray’s) do – then you can’t fail….Customers have taken to our ideas.”
Overall, O’Neill says he’s glad to be back and apologizes that McMurray’s is not back one hundred percent. O’Neill says that there is still so much more to expand on, ranging from the large patio surrounded by privacy fences and vegetation that will be built around or after St. Patrick ’s Day, as well as challenging the building’s occupancy level.
Several blocks away from McMurray’s, Renea Turner, Ruby’s owner, wants to put rumors about Ruby’s closing to rest. Turner says that Ruby’s which has been open for two years now is going nowhere and in fact, is planning to expand by opening another level and is excited to announce that Bada Bing Pizza will be opening next door. Turner says her goal was to return the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant back to the “original Witt college bar that it once was for decades.” Turner says she “just loves the Wittenberg students. I’m trying to get back to tradition.”
Junior Katelyn Haralamos says, “I like Ruby’s because it has a better layout for socializing and the people I end up going with have a lot of fun. I don’t like the bouncers at McMurray’s and hate the lines because so many people are forced to stand outside in the cold. The one in, one out system is so frustrating. I feel like I have to get to the bars so early in order to just get in.
Turner was asked if Ruby’s has experienced a loss of customers since the reopening of McMurray’s down the road. She said that she understands students wanted to check out McMurray’s now that it’s back but many students have chosen to return to Ruby’s after checking it out.
“McMurray’s reopening hindered our numbers a little but since then our numbers are back on the rise,” Turner says. In comparison to McMurray’s, Turner says “Ruby’s pricing is better and we have more drink specials…on average students are saving $1 to $2 on drinks.”
“Ruby’s is game oriented with $5 pitchers, five beer pong tables, corn hole, pool, darts, and fooseball tables,” Turner says. “We really try to cater to Wittenberg students.”  Turner says she’s even given rides to students in the past on cold nights, even though she considers the walk to Ruby’s from campus to be safe and well patrolled.
Both O’Neill and Turner agree that once the weather breaks, business will pick up even more although both say that they tend to reach full capacity at 200 people, on the weekends.

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