‘The Stick’ remains a top Norwich University hangout

Rustic copyThe Rustic Lounge and Sports bar, located on Route 12, has long been a hotspot for Norwich students. Rivaling Norwich’s own Pub, the Rustic is a relaxing place to go with friends, according to those who frequent the Route 12 watering hole

“The Rustic is a known hotspot near Norwich University,” said Patrick Venetz, 20, a junior criminal justice major from Old Forge, N.Y. Not only do current students love it, but alumni fill the place over alumni weekend, he noted.

“The Rustic is a really great place to go to,” said Melissa Rome, 21, a junior criminal justice major from Enfield, Conn. “You can go with a bunch of your friends to go drink and just hang out.”

Venetz expressed that the Rustic provides “a nice retreat from an otherwise stressful environment” where students can both “celebrate and drown their sorrows, as some like to say.”

Meghan Papagno, 21, a senior English and education major from Wakefield, Mass., described the Rustic as “a nice hole-in-the-wall place and a pretty good bar.”

Others, however, such as Ryan Maxfield, 19, a sophomore criminal justice major from Randolph, Vt., haven’t the same view. He calls it “a place for townies” and says sometimes when the Norwich students go, “I have just seen them get trashed and get kicked out.”

Although there is a pub on campus, students often prefer to get away from campus. P.Z. Matthews, 22, a senior political science major from Somerdale, N.J., believe that is part of the attraction at the bar.

“At the Rustic, you feel like you are at home drinking,” he said, “while at the Pub, you still feel like you are at Norwich with all the rules.”

Matthews feels that the Rustic is the perfect place to hang out with your friends, as well as the people in town, and just relax.

Rome agreed that the Rustic provides more of a “relaxing” environment, unlike the Pub.

If someone decides to go to the Pub on campus, Rome explained that students feel like even if they are of age, they are still “stigmatized by Jackman (the administration) because you can’t drink on campus.”

Matthews has been to the Rustic many times and favors drinking there rather than at the Pub.

“It is a nice place to just go and drink without having Norwich’s limitations,” Matthews said, “and they also have better bartenders than the Knotty Shamrock,” another bar in downtown Northfield that is a more upscale.


Mark Ruel, the current owner of The Rustic sports bar, hams it up in the famed watering hole that has attracted Norwich students for many years .

Mark Ruel, the current owner of The Rustic sports bar, hams it up in the famed watering hole that has attracted Norwich students for many years .

The bartenders and wait-staff overall get positive reviews from Norwich students. Rome observed that the bartenders at the Rustic “were a lot of fun” and Matthews describes the staff as giving “quick service” and making good drinks at a price students can afford.

Rome recognizes that the places to drink in Northfield are limited and because of that the choice is easy when the options are the Pub, the Knotty, and the Rustic.

Maxfield said he favors the Knotty Shamrock himself, noting the Rustic has an atmosphere that is more downscale, like its name – which even its fans agree is the case.

For many students, the main downside is that the Rustic is not directly on campus or in walking distance, but several miles north on Route 12.

“It’s further away from school,” Papagno said, “so its kind of harder to get there if you don’t already have a ride.”

Even if it is farther away, though, Rustic fans say the experience is worth the distance for the atmosphere.

“The drive to the Rustic is worth it,” Rome said. “I would rather go the Rustic where I am relaxed.”

Matthews agrees with Rome, saying, “I really don’t like the distance. (However,) I overlook that for the experience of going to a good bar.”

Overall, Papagno, Matthews, Rome, and Venetz enjoy the Rustic even if the distance can present an issue and say that they always have a good time there.


  1. Couldn’t have picked a better picture. That is Mark at his best. Great article.

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