Students move on from The Social Bar after city boards it up

The windows of The Social Bar are boarded up after the city of Youngstown shut it down.

By Mia Albaugh

The Social Bar & Tapas in Youngstown closed and was boarded up by the city Aug. 27 due to underage drinking, drugs and violence.

The Social opened Oct. 31, 2020, with hopes of being a popular destination for nightlife. 

The bar was located at the ground level of a partially residential building, Erie Terminal, on West Commerce Street.

When the bar opened, it had a game room with pool tables, a DJ area, tables and chairs for socializing and room to dance.

The downtown bars and restaurants are popular places for nightlife among college students. Even though The Social was one of the popular destinations for young people, many students of Youngstown State University feel safer knowing the bar is closed. 

“I’m glad The Social closed down. Every time you would go downtown there would always be some kind of trouble going on and the cops always got called,” sophomore pre-social work major Rema Shakhtra said.

City commissioners and police officials recognize the importance of keeping crime levels down in the downtown area to keep it a safe nightlife destination.

A community meeting convened Aug. 12 with city officials, bar and restaurant owners and landlords discussed how to make the area a safer environment.

Some of the suggestions included: installing cameras, improving lighting and increasing police presence to decrease the amount of crime.

Local first responder Lauren Habuda appreciates the bar’s closure because of the short-staffed Emergency Medical System.

“We will have less calls for unnecessary fights. We’ll be able to spread our resources to people who have actual medical problems,” she said.

Many students are indifferent about the crime in downtown Youngstown.

“As long as I’m going with a group, I’m OK with going downtown,” sophomore integrated language arts education major Emily Vero said.

A former employee of the bar believes the closing of the bar is not the solution.

“People are going to keep acting the way they act because nobody deals with consequences,” Celina Banks said. “As far as the fights and all that, I don’t think it had anything to do with the bar because half the fights that happened were outside … I see it as them trying to find the easy way out.”

After the closure of The Social, those that were regulars on the weekends have looked to other places to socialize.

On Aug. 12 at 2:30 a.m., five police patrol cars were on standby on the West Commerce Street end of the Phelps Street Gateway after a large group of people continued socializing after bars closed for the night.

After the increased police presence focused on the West Commerce Street side of the Phelps Street Gateway facing the large group of people, some were concerned about discrimination.

One went to social media with their concerns.

A resident of Youngstown, LaTieya Richard under the username @LatieyaR said, “Can’t nothing stay opened because as soon as young Black people gather the city does everything to shut it down.”