Already severely damaged by a fire in July, Kelly’s Saloon was demolished on Oct. 12 before a small crowd of students. As construction crews built a wall to block the empty lot and continued construction, Geneseo residents, students and business owners continue to be affected by this loss.
To Rachel Crawford ’15, who recently visited for alumni weekend, the site “is a constant reminder walking down Main Street of what used to be there.”
“It’s definitely been a shock to the community,” Genesee Sun co-owner Conrad Baker ‘14 said. The Genesee Sun is located next to Kelly’s.
The fire in Kelly’s occurred after the two bars—the Inn Between Tavern and The Vital Spot—already closed their doors.
“I think it’s had a very disproportionate impact compared to the other two because it just left one [bar] on Main Street,” senior Kevin Frankel said.
“It’s so different because when you think about it, five years ago there were five bars on Main Street,” Crawford added. “Now that the Vital closed and Kelly’s is burned down, there’s a different vibe.”
The demolition of Kelly’s also adds to the existing construction on Main Street that comes from replacing the water main.
“From 9 a.m. until nighttime, there’s noise going on of trucks moving, trash and rubble getting moved around and there’s a lot of traffic on Main Street,” Center Street resident senior Melissa Marullo said. “It’s not affecting my life all that much. It’s just a really big inconvenience at times.”
Baker said that he is satisfied with his interactions with the construction workers at the Kelly’s site. “They always communicate with us really well,” he said, citing interactions with neighboring businesses and existing relations with community members. “They’re very professional and I’m glad that they handled it.”
Some other local businesses reported less change as a result of the closing. “It doesn’t affect my business, but it affects the town,” Cyclepath owner Mike Duke said.
“It hasn’t been a huge loss for us in terms of business,” Baker added.
According to Marullo, the demolition affects the nature of nightlife in Geneseo. Underage people who might have gotten away with going to one of the bars in the past don’t take the risk at The Idle Hour. Marullo said she does not see underage people in bars the same way she did last semester.
Marullo added that it also means that more people are likely to drink at house parties and dorms and until later in the night because of student organizations’ parties. “In a way, it’s kind of nice not having everyone run out the door at 12 a.m. because the bus gets to the H-Lot at 12:03 a.m.,” she said.
More people at house parties, however, could mean that people may stay with the same group instead of intermingling like they did at Kelly’s and other bars. “I have friends in other organizations and friends who might not be in anything and you get to see them all in one place and it’s so cool,” Marullo said.
“Kelly’s was a place you would see people you recognized from campus and everyone felt comfortable talking to each other and approaching other people,” Frankel said. “It was a place where you could find someone who was an acquaintance and become actual friends with them.”
“I have memories of great conversations with townies and with Kelly herself,” Crawford said. “The campus is less connected now in that kind of sense.”