The bar and club at 25 and 29 W. Market St. opened to customers for the last time on Friday for Bike Night, even though the decision to close had been reached about two months prior, owner Ron Kamionka said.
Bike Night "is a big night for us, so we held on a little bit," he said.
The shutdowns follow the closure of Kamionka's Hardware Bar across the street at the beginning of the year and, two blocks away, the Harp & Fiddle Irish Pub and Restaurant in July.
'Time and effort': Closing the York facilities was a pure business move, said Kamionka, who also owns entertainment venues in Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg and Wilkes-Barre.
"We're realigning our corporation and concentrating on new and emerging markets," Kamionka said. "For the amount of time and effort in our big picture that we spend, we were not maximizing per-square-foot profit that we like to keep in the York properties."
Despite closing the businesses, Kamionka's company, Harrisburg-based Kamionka Entertainment, is hardly contracting. Thursday marks the grand opening of a new Hardware Bar in West Chester, and Kamionka said he plans to add a bodega-style deli in Harrisburg and expand into Scranton in the coming months.
In York, "the foot traffic has definitely decreased over the past year. Just fewer people through the doors, fewer people on the streets," he said. "It wasn't correlated to new competition or anything like that. We just saw it as the market dropping."
The 21 remaining employees at the York locations were mostly absorbed by Kamionka's Harrisburg businesses.
Progress: While it's sad to see any business leave the city, downtown York has grown by leaps and bounds in the last several years, said Kevin Schreiber, the city's economic development director. In late 2003, when the Hardware Bar first opened downtown, the city didn't have Keo Asian Grill & Sushi, Esaan Thai, AgroDolce, Bistro 19 or any of the other eateries that have emerged since.
The recently overhauled White Rose Bar & Grill is doing "phenomenally well," and nearby Granfalloons is thriving, too, Schreiber said.
"Look at how far we've come, just in the past five or six years," he said.
And like the Peterman building at 110 N. George St. -- former home of the Harp & Fiddle -- the buildings that housed Kamionka's businesses have seen dramatic renovations under his stewardship.
"They are attractive and marketable. I don't think they'll sit (for sale) long," Schreiber said.
If they do sit, Kamionka could be back. His venues had "a better run than anyone ever predicted we could have," he said, and if the properties haven't sold by the time the market recovers, he might start over.
"Markets get hot and go cold in five-year cycles. We believe the foot traffic in York will come back again," he said.
Opportunity: A vibrant nightlife is necessary for any growing urban community, York Mayor John Brenner said.
"This isn't just about young people going to a bar and then dancing. This is about a creative culture that requires a nightlife," he said.
But he questioned whether the economy was to blame for the bar and night club's departures, and he framed the situation as more of an opportunity than a tragedy.
An "eternal optimist," he said he was still astonished that York, with its strong German heritage, doesn't have a brew pub. Combined with a restaurant, a project like that could thrive downtown, Brenner said.
"We're not going to hang our heads and worry about it," he said. "We're going to weather this recession. We're going to weather the storm."
-- Reach Peter Mergenthaler at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.