Senior Isaac Devoid exits his off-campus house on Mechanic Street. It’s around 10:30 p.m. and he needs some food and caffeine to finish studying for an upcoming test.
Unfortunately, once he reaches Main Street of Castleton, it is a ghost town. The lights are off in the Village Store and he doesn’t see the open flag flying in front of Castleton Pizza Place & Deli.
The diner is also closed and Fireside Café on campus shuts down at 10:30 as well.
“It is a little crazy that the stores close as early as they do,” Devoid said. “ If you look at UVM, they have places like Mister Mikes, and they have a line out of the door till 2 a.m.”
But Castleton isn’t nearly the size of Burlington, and that is where the divide comes.
John Rehlen owns and operates the Castleton Village Store, Birdseye Diner and The Castleton Pizza Place & Deli. Rehlen said he adjusts the store hours to the reality of the town after 9 p.m.
“There’s just not enough traffic through the town at that time of night,” Rehlen said. “The argument can be made, ‘stay open and they will come.' But most locals are home at that point.”
And it isn’t for lack of trying.
Rehlen had changed the store hours in the past to see if it would generate a profit. Unfortunately, the lack of people shopping or dining past 8 p.m. proved to be the issue.
“We didn’t see any change with either business … With the new bar going into the pizza place, we have discussed staying open later,” Rehlen said. “Our aim for the new bar is for it to be a community bar more than a bar-bar. We want people to come down and watch a game. It is a residential community so it would be a residential bar.”
But students like Kyle Lutinski still think Rehlen is losing money by closing early.
“Local business would prosper if they had later hours. Dominos makes a killing on college campuses, and the pizza place has better pizza,” Lutinski said. “It would be awesome if I could go grab a slice right in town, it would be so convenient.”
Lutinski’s roommate and fellow sophomore Byron Myson agrees.
“On the weekends, there are students everywhere at like 10:30,” Myson said. “College students drink. Drunk people eat and pay irresponsibly for food. A drunk college guy could spend $30 at the Village Store on beer, then walk across the street and spend 15 bucks on pizza. Both stores win.”
Could it be that local store owners don’t want a bunch of drunken college kids running around their stores causing mayhem?
Rehlen said the students have nothing to do with the reason they close up shop early.
“We have very good relationship with the college kids. We employ them and rent to them … There are no undertones toward the students; it is really just the issue of traffic,” he said.