IB closure spurs changes to Main Street’s late-night culture

The Inn Between Tavern, which admitted students both over and under the legal drinking age during its 39-year run, closed its doors in September. Students were known to plan their weekend outings around the IB’s open hours, visiting other bars and nighttime restaurants located nearby on Main Street. As weekend traffic on Court Street has become more prevalent following the IB’s closure and The Statesmen’s emergence as a popular destination, there has been a noticeable change in attendance at other late-night Main Street businesses.

While the former IB is set to become the Sigma Delta Tau sorority house in fall 2015, The Statesmen on Court Street has discontinued its weekday hours and adopted the IB’s previous weekend-centric schedule, letting in students age 18 and over on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Although The Statesmen has seen a noticeable increase in foot traffic this semester, assistant professor of economics Léonie Stone doesn’t believe that the IB’s absence will cause much financial change for the surrounding bars and late night restaurants.

“Honestly, I expect nothing at all to happen,” she said in an email interview. “The nighttime economy in Geneseo is a subset of Main Street activity, and students are a captive audience. Plus, zoning is very strict and it’s hard to get a liquor license. Bars have come and gone before, although this one was around for a very long time.”

Economic development specialist of Livingston County Development Maureen Wheeler refused to comment on whether or not businesses have been hit financially because she said that Main Street doesn’t maintain any statistics based on its overall business.

Some students, however, noted that Main Street culture has changed significantly from previous years.

“The nightlife [on Main Street] is very different,” senior Nicole Bacharach said. “It’s very desolate whereas before it was always hopping and it’s definitely because everyone is moving downtown to The Statesmen. It’s such a long commute, especially for people who are younger, because they now have no reason to go uptown anymore.”

Senior Joseph Rabideau added, “Now there is no one big spot where you can see people.”

This apparent decrease in Main Street traffic seems as though it could be cause for financial concern for remaining local bars, but Idle Hour bartender Stephen Parker said that isn’t the case. “Honestly, it hasn’t made much of an impact,” he said. “We still do just about the same amount of business overall, but it just tends to be a later crowd.”

Parker, who has worked at the Idle since 2012, noticed that students are coming to the Idle about an hour later than in previous years. “Previously, we would start getting our crowd around 10-10:30 p.m. until around 1-1:30 a.m,” he said. “Recently, it doesn’t start to pick up like it used to until around 11:30 p.m.”

Employees at Kelly’s Saloon, The Statesmen and The Vital Spot were unavailable to comment.

Pizza Paul’s has seen similar trends with students ordering food this semester. Owner Teresa Chichester claimed the shift in visitation in obvious. “When the IB was open … great intense bar rush,” she said. “Now, there’s tricklings of people. Then I realized at 2:30 a.m. it begins because that’s how long it takes to get from The Statesmen to here.”

While Chichester didn’t specify whether Paul’s has taken a financial hit, she said she originally hoped the IB’s closing would be profitable for the business.

“I was kind of hoping that, with them closing, it would bring more people up to Main Street,” she said. “It’s something to do. If you can’t go to the clubs, get something to eat now, go [out] and get something to eat later,” Chichester said. She also mentioned that Paul’s plans on expanding its delivery services to accommodate the changing needs of students.

Known for its late night delivery, Main Street restaurant University Hots has seen a 15 percent increase in sales this semester, owner Steve Vasile said in a phone interview. In addition to this increase, the time students visit the restaurant has also changed, just as it has with Paul’s and the Idle.

“Last year, business would get extremely busy toward the end of the night whereas now we’re steady through the whole night and it’s not just one giant rush at the end of the night,” he said. “I think that one reason that the numbers are up is because it’s more consistent than everyone at once.”

In accordance with the pattern, Mama Mia’s Restaurant has also experienced a shift in business with less positive results.

“It has affected me quite a lot actually,” Mia’s owner Eddie Caruso said. “For the first time in 25 years, we are not closing late on Thursday nights. People aren’t coming up from hardcore at the IB. So we’ve been closing at 11 p.m., and we might even start closing earlier than that. It’s just not worth it. That was a huge hit that I just took on Thursday alone.”

He explained that this hit forced him to cut his staff by 20 percent, and added that he isn’t the only one having this problem. “I have also heard the other bars have been affected as well,” Caruso said. “I think everybody is taking a hit.”

While many business have been wary to cite the closing of the IB as the sole reason for this abrupt change, Caruso recognized the important role the bar played in the nightlife culture.

“They were the anchor business after 10 and 11 p.m. up here on Main Street,” he said.

While trends regarding the businesses have been noticeable, it hasn’t been the case with arrests. According to Geneseo Village Police Chief Eric Osganian, it could take a few years to trace whether the closing of the IB has affected the number of alcohol-related incidents and whether or not The Statesmen will copy the IB in this regard.

“The IB had lots of issues with people going back to their dorms and calling University Police and saying they were drinking at the IB,” Osganian said in an phone interview. “UPD would send us a report and the State Liquor Authority.”

Stone said that one of the most important advantages that the IB provided students was space. She added that, based upon student and local demand, the emergence of a second IB substitute closer to Main Street businesses is plausible.

“There is still demand for another bar on or near Main Street. So something else replacing it would certainly be conceivable,” she said.


Editor-in-chief Chelsea Butkowski, sports editor Taylor Frank, associate news editor Casey Larkin and assistant news editor Emma Bixler contributed reporting to this article.