DePaul Drinks: Track bars, specials, parties with this handy, student-created website
Published: Monday, May 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Sometimes the best ideas can be right under your nose, or in the case of DePaul junior, Sam Hoke, right under his mug. Hoke, the co-founder of DePaulDrinks.com began the website as a way for him and his roommate to keep track of bar specials.
“It just started as a spreadsheet on my computer so we could figure out where to go each night,” said Hoke. “Eventually, I just put it online so other people could use it.”
The website, which launched in January of 2011, sparked an initial controversy with the university for using its name and a picture of St. Vincent in its logo. According to senior Jordhan Briggs, the website’s marketing coordinator, they have taken precautions to ensure they’re in the clear.
“DePaul wanted us to be clear that we weren’t affiliated with them,” said Briggs. “So we added a disclaimer to the website and I try to mention it in posts and tweets so we don’t send out the wrong message.”
According to the site’s business manager, there was nearly a year of preparation which involved researching specials and writing reviews for the 60+ bars featured on the site.
For Hoke, the website seems to sell itself because it targets DePaul students directly. Although it started with drink specials, DePaul Drinks has since expanded to the world of bar crawls, house parties and recently began service to help plan private parties and crawls.
“I’ve had professors bring up the website in my marketing classes,” said Hoke. “I’m always surprised when there are people that haven’t heard about it yet.”
The goal is to expand the site to other Chicago schools, targeting Loyola and Columbia students through social media.
“We have a pretty good following from Loyola already but we’re looking to expand it even further,” said Hoke.
While the site did undergo a bit of controversy for posting pictures of underage students, they have since revised their policies for the pictures they post.
“Mostly the problem was with Greek Life,” said Briggs. “They have strict policies about pictures their members appear in, but ultimately we can’t control it if they’re inside of a bar.”
The pictures were quickly removed after complaints were issued.
“I’m careful to check all of the pictures now to make sure that we’re sure everyone in it is of age,” said Briggs.
The growth of the site slowed down a bit during this time but has made an incredible comeback since.
In only two months, the site’s Twitter following grew by more than 500 percent. Currently, after only 16 months the @DePaulDrinks account has more than 13,000 followers.
DePaul Drinks hosts events in the Lincoln Park area multiple times per month and has even teamed up with the monthly “Derailed” bar crawl in Wrigleyville. According to Briggs, most of the profit that they make at one event gets filtered right into the next.
“The money we made at our ‘Friday the 13th’ event went right into the house party we hosted the next week,” said Briggs.
The house party angle is just one of the innovative events they try to provide to DePaulians. Rather than the typical, freshmen-packed, BYOB stigma that usually accompanies Lincoln Park house parties, DePaul Drinks comes with all the punches. A fully-stocked cash bar, dance floor with DJ and plenty of kegs are available for the party-goers –- all of whom must be of legal drinking age.
“It’s the same as going out to the bar but it has the cheapness of a party,” said Briggs. “Its five-bucks for a refillable keg-cup and liquor is extra.”
Even at that price, they estimate they generate nearly $1,000 in cash from a typical party or bar crawl.
While running the site is great for now, neither Hoke nor Briggs see their future in the site.
“I think this is a huge resume builder and definitely a growing experience but I’ll leave it at DePaul once I graduate,” said Hoke.
Briggs agreed, saying that they hoped to leave it in the hands of current students.