For decades, some students have reveled in the amenities that come with attending Chapman University: the beach, Disneyland, and the District Lounge.
Yep. The D, as most students call it, has been as much a part of Chapman life as Taco Tuesdays or Greek life parties. Its large blue mural with its olive-topped martini glass and “open til 2 a.m.” is as iconic for some as the Piazza or the Chapman fountains.
But that was pre–pandemic.
No more Thursday night District ritual, just off the Circle on Chapman Avenue and walking minutes from the university. The District has been closed for months.
Said one District spokesman: “We did everything we could to reduce expenses and stay open during the pandemic for our staff and guests. But it’s just not feasible for us to operate in this climate.”
But that doesn’t mean students have stopped drinking. Oh no. They’ve just had to find other watering holes. Even if they’re farther away.
Students are discovering bars scenes as far at Newport Beach or Lake Forest, still less than half an hour’s drive from Chapman.
Student D.A. describes her new go to bars around Orange County. “My friends and I regularly go to Bigshots instead of Orange bars now,” she said. “I miss the bars in the Circle very much, but with all the new regulations I feel the change of scenery has allowed my friends and me to have a more memorable experience”.
Bigshots Billiards Bar and Grill is a bar located in Lake Forest that offers 18+ country line dancing on Wednesday and Sunday nights. The establishment also has pool tables and operates at a limited capacity indoors. Being 20 minutes away from campus, the country bar resembles the popular country bar in Fullerton called InCahoots, which has also closed its doors.
Popular Newport Beach bars include Malarky’s, Woody’s, Baja Sharkeez, Cabo Cantina, among many others who fully operate with less restrictions when it comes to capacity.
But for those without transportation, well, there is still Paul’s Cocktails, which is next to the District. Though even Paul’s isn’t much like Paul’s any more.
Paul’s customers must drink under a canopy in its parking lot. And with cold weather at night, the Paul’s crowds have been dismal. Besides, Paul’s biggest business came from the spillover from the District.
You won’t know for awhile when the District will re-open. Even though Governor Gavin Newsom recently allowed for restaurants to reopen outdoor dining, The District has still decided to remain closed “until ALL regulations have been lifted.”
Don’t try its website, which is no help, or its phone number, which has shut down. Students returning to classrooms on March 29 may help influence the District to try at least some hours of operation. It’s certainly missed.
Said Chapman student K.S. “The D used to be way more fun than Paul’s. The D had an amazing DJ, the drinks were cheaper and there was always way more people.”