Should You Pay a Cover Charge?

Why Pay a Cover Charge?

I hate paying cover charges. I never understood why people would wait in a line, in all kinds of weather, to pay $5, $10, or even $20 for the privilege to walk through the door. And then, to only have to wait your turn at the bar for the honor to purchase overpriced drinks.

This scenario happens all over the planet. However, when it takes place right here in Southeast Michigan is when it bothers me the most. It is usually the trendy bars – the hip new places in town – that everyone wants to go to; I know the establishment will be full with a line out the door, with or without a cover charge. They figure that they might as well make extra money on the deal of being busy. Nonetheless, I still hate paying cover charges. So, I never do it while at home. However, while on vacation I often “splurge” for the experience.

While on Vacation …

In Central America, the Caribbean, and many countries in Europe, you will find similar cover charges at bars, nightclubs and discotheques (the word “disco” is used worldwide for what we call a nightclub). However, I find that usually the price you pay for a cover charge includes two drinks.

If a drink or two comes with paying to get in the door, go straight to the bar to receive your thirst quenchers. Usually, you get both right away; and that’s fine, saves you from having to go back too soon. Ask what is available with your “free” drinks, but more than likely it will be watered down well drinks. I suggest you try a local beer or wine to sample the region and remember you may always ask for a non-alcoholic drink (sometimes called “virgin”). If you prefer diet beverages, sometimes you need to say “cola light” to get the message across.

You Have Options

When in doubt, ask a local: What’s the best deal, what’s good at this bar, and how do I ask for what I want? Enjoy your travels.

There are plenty of well established bars in the Rochester Area that do not charge a cover and have good entertainment. For example, none of the Hamlin Pubs have a cover charge and they offer a full menu and bar, and music most nights. I encourage you frequent these types of places and pass by the ones that charge you to walk in the door.

No Cover venues in the Rochester Area that provide a menu, full bar, and entertainment:

Hamlin Pub on Rochester Road at Hamlin Road 

O’Connor’s Public House on Main Street in Downtown Rochester

Rochester Mills Beer Co. on Water Street at Fourth Street

Disclaimer: Special events, such as New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s, may charge a cover fee. This is not a complete list; feel free to send an email with details of your favorite “no cover” venue or post in the comments section. Thank you.

Michael Dwyer is a freelance writer and travel columnist. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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