Downtown Closure

I was just thinking about how many downtown venues have come and gone in the post-Vault era of downtown Harrisburg, and I was surprised by my realization.  Since the opening of 5:01, we’ve averaged just over 1.5 venues per year flaming out.  It’s been said before, and it will be said again, but this rapid-fire open / close / rename / reopen / refail / close strategy is going to be the end of downtown.

  • 5:01 Downtown
  • Mars
  • Noma
  • South Street Tavern
  • The District
  • Cabana
  • Noma Remixed
  • Fisaga
  • Tom Sawyer
  • Privado
  • Whatever that Japanese place in the diner was called
  • Smalls

Is that all?  Am I missing any?

9 thoughts on “Downtown Closure”

  1. I’m not sure it’s going to be the end of downtown. Seeing as how in most of the cases you mention, it’s not about changing ownership or someone closing down due to bankruptcy. It’s about finding something that works.

    However, you forgot Max’s (revamped as Carmella’s) and The Pub at 202 Locust (now a thriving McGrath’s), Zephyr (though arguably that was during the Vault era; rebuilt at – oh – the former Cafe Sol, former North St. Cafe) and Violet’s/405 Jazz/Sophia’s (off the strip and also closed – heard the Italian Market was moving there). Consider Jackie Blue, if we may move midtown, which is now Blue Bistro. We also lost The Spot, and why doesn’t anyone have a late-night cheesesteak biz downtown? Javid’s went from Skewers to Indian. Remember Politesse? After moving from Shipoke (now Char’s, soon moving), it was quickly replaced by Cantone’s Downtown, which was even more quickly replaced by Zia’s, which then plunged into its superior sister, Red Door, and now that corner spot is a bank.

  2. Sara to the rescue. I knew I had missed some. 16 after the update, for an average of more than one venue closing every six months. And we do need downtown food at all hours. Desperately. That’s been, what, the single biggest rallying cry since the turn of the millennium?

    Bone: by my count, plenty. 10 of the 11 listed, or 10 of the 16 amended. Well over half.

    Jersey: Sadly I never made it to Jackie Blue. The shame.

  3. First off, I am loving the new format here! I saw that you mentioned in another thread that is is temporary, and it doesn’t work with IE6. Who cares, people should be using Firefox anyway (or IE7). 😉

    But many of the places on the list were extremely boring, and nothing to set them apart from the last/next…it’s no wonder to me that they closed.

    Okay, well I guess I should clarify a little: some were good *at first* (e.g. Noma, Mars) but then they quickly became boring because they stopped being what made them special and tried to emulate what was around them. In DT HBG you go from place to place and the only thing that changes are the walls you are looking at; basically the same people, same music, same atmosphere…

    DT HBG still needs what it has always needed: variety (and yes, more late-night eating places). This 6-month recycle crap has got to go because it is merely a ploy to trick people into thinking that they are getting something new, and in the long run, the quality suffers heavily. The sad part is there are MANY who fall for it. “Whoa it’s Noma-REMIXED now?!? That has got to be pretty cool…”


  4. Thanks — that thread was referring to the Retro Mac OS theme. It was pretty cool, but totally broken under IE6 — or about 50% of my visitors. Worked fine in Camino and Safari, though!

    I think you’ve hit the button on why these “remixed” ideas, in a nutshell, suck. Mars was fun because of the combination of music, crowd, and “uniqueness”. At the time, Harrisburg really didn’t have a hip lounge (for the record, I hate using that word). Over time, things started adjusting; a little more Top 40 Hip Hop here, a little brighter lighting there, and the crowd that was once fiercely loyal became alienated. Eventually, the Powers That Be decided to close the venue, and they had the audacity to blame it on “not enough people”. Mars was dead and buried.
    Then came the ill-fated Wanda’s East South Street Tavern in all its obnoxious-yellow-font “OMG PARTY BAR” glory. Mars’ grave was now being urinated upon.

    But then came Smalls. It wasn’t Mars, but it shared Mars’ cool factor. Even if you weren’t into the music, you could just go there and soak up the vibe. Mars now had a punk little sister.

    Now it’s going to be Mars Remixed. Given that neither Noma nor Mars ever attracted the mainstream, Top 40 crowd, I don’t believe that we’ll see a difference in success between Noma Remixed and Mars Remixed.

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