Since the closure of the Inn Between, underage students have had to take their pent up academic frustrations away from Main Street and to The Statesmen on Court Street. What many do not realize, however, is that the bar-turned-nightclub wasn’t always what it is today.
Statesmen manager Corinne Green ‘14 explained that she distinctly remembers when she found out the IB was closing for good. “I remember calling [Statesmen owner Rocco Dragani] and we were both like, ‘Things are going to change,’” she said. “So we started and we were open all the time, every day and then we slowly shaved down our hours and changed the whole look and feel of the business.”
Their business wasn’t always a student-oriented nightclub—or even a bar. According to Green, The Statesmen opened as the M and B Grill in the 1910s. “[It] was a full service restaurant, not really a bar, until the 50s,” she said. She explained that it was then—around 40 years after the restaurant opened—that The Statesmen got its new name. The owner at that time—Tony Battaglia, who was the son of the original owners—remade The Statesmen into a party venue.
“In the 60s, he added the addition—which is now Sigma Kappa—and made it more of a party house like for weddings and special events and stuff,” Green said. “They had weddings every weekend or live bands every weekend—and never a DJ or anything, it was always live music.”
Green explained that one staple band at The Statesmen was EZ Money. The vocalist and percussionist for EZ Money? None other than recently retired Geneseo cross country head coach Mike Woods ’69. “Everything’s just so connected because Mike Woods taught English at York High School for years and years and years and he was my boss Rocco [Dragani’s] English teacher and his track and field coach when Rocco was in high school,” Green said.
After a series of management changes, Dragani took over in 2012 and renovated the building, turning it into a typical sports bar. Dragani hired Green as a bartender after he reopened in May 2013.
When the IB closed, Dragani and Green saw an open market and jumped on the rare opportunity. “We got rid of the kitchen over that one winter break, completely renovated the inside and now it is a nightclub,” Green said. “We were not expecting that to happen.”
As for their new business, Green emphasized her passion for what she does and her excitement for the future of The Statesmen. “Things are going really well and it’s so much fun. We are so lucky to be in Geneseo,” she said. “Everyone that comes to the bar is just so great and Geneseo students are smart and polite and they’re fun. It’s great to be a part of that community in that way; to be able to fill that space.”
Although it appears that the bar scene is dying down in Geneseo—with the Idle Hour being the only one remaining uptown—Green expressed her belief that The Statesmen should continue to thrive in the community.
“I see The Statesmen continuing to grow. That’s my five-year plan. I’ve put so much of myself into this business and it’s not even that I just love The Statesmen, I love the village of Geneseo. I love the students, I love the College, I love Main Street,” she said. “I’ve lived here full-time, year-round since I was a freshman. I stayed here over the summers. There’s just no question in my mind that I want to be here.”