Once one of Harvard Square's few sanctuaries of bike culture, heavy metal music, jeans and leather jackets, the Bow and Arrow Pub has rapidly become the home to increasing numbers of chinowearing, pop-music listening Harvard students.
In years past, the sight of 25 Harley Davidson motorcycles parked in front of the pub would be enough to drive the students away. But now, thanks to changes in Harvard's alcohol policy and an aggressive attempt on the part of Bow management to attract students, more and more residents of the houses are spending their Thursday nights there.
A visit to the pub at the intersection of Bow and Arrow Streets on a recent Thursday night--a big night-out for area students--provides a glimpse into the transformation the bar has undergone.
Outside, two men leave the pub, hoping to escape the rush of students. One of them, clad in a plaid flannel shirt with a bushy mustache and beard, stands near a red pick-up truck. He says he's leaving the Bow--it's getting too crowded.
Asked what he thinks of the influx of students, he pauses for a second, thinking.
"I think the Bow, lately, sucks. There are too many yuppies," he says, wearing a red Budweiser Beer hat. Then he gets into the truck, which bears a flourescent green "Motorcycles Are Everywhere" bumper sticker, and takes off.
Pub Manager Richard Zombeck is the mastermind behind the recent changes at the Bow. During the last eight months, he has hired a slew of Harvard students as bouncers and run advertisements in the student press.
He says the reason is one of safety. Before the Bow had a rough and violent reputation for a good reason--it was. Now, the students spend as much money as some members of the biker-regular crowd and they simply don't present the same crime and drug problem, he says.
"You know about the old rumors, actually facts. There were a lot of bikers and drugs. I started to cater to Harvard students," says Zombeck. "I like the new clientele."
Zombeck, who spent time in Switzerland and at the Beacon Hill Pub, also changed the music from Aerosmith, AC/DC and Black Sabbath to more conventional Top 40 tunes, put in a popular basketball machine and started serving buffalo wings and 10-cent hot dogs.
The Scene Inside
Inside, an old-fashioned stenciled sign hangs on the wall near the entrance reading, "Boston's Best Beer: Samuel Adams," and a message above the bar implores Harvard students to tip better. It's early and not that crowded yet. But two Harvard affiliates sit along the side wall of the bar, talking quietly and sipping Sam Adams beer. They say they want to stay for a while, but when it gets too crowded, they will leave.
In front of them, two women sit at one of the wooden-toned formica tables that dot the middle of the room. They wear trendy black leather jackets and puff on Marlborough cigarettes as they chat with a uniformed security officer. An English Beat tune plays in the background.
One of the women identifies herself as a 19-year-old Boston University junior named Moon. She says she used to frequent the Boathouse Bar, but started coming to the Bow early this fall because it's "a different place, nothing special."
Then, as the women stare off into space and smoke their cigarettes, in walks Christian N. Arangio '91, 22, and his buddies from Leverett House. Over the past several years, he has witnessed the Bow's transformation.