First, Stone Coast Brewery decided to turn into a steakhouse in early December. Then over New Year’s, Zootz couldn’t make the rent and shut down. Now, The Better End has announced that it has officially closed.

And I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

These places were my favorite hangouts. All dark, hole-in-the-wall watering holes with consistently good music and entertainment. Maybe these bars didn’t have the best reputations, but they sure were popular among the college crowd. I have rubbed many a USM elbow while chugging beer in the dark corners of Stone Coast, Zootz and “The Bit.”

I remember the first time I went to The Better End. It was early last summer (I turned 21 in May), and I had just attended a Tuesday night open mic hip-hop show at Stone Coast. Everyone said that The Better End was “the place to go” after the show. They were right, at about 11:30 p.m., the crowd migrated down Fore Street to The Better End, where DJ Jon was spinning and scratching old and new-school hip-hop.

The club was packed with all kinds of people – preppies, hippies, punks, homeboys, and the occasional aging hipster in a suit and tie. The vibe was similar to that of a frat party in a dank basement, complete with foosball, pool tables and video games.

For whatever reason, I liked that bar, and I kept going back. And best of all – the drinks were cheap. Pabst Blue Ribbon, although arguably the worst tasting beer ever made, was $1.50. Rum and cokes were $2 on Thursdays – my favorite night.

The Better End was home to many fond memories. I was there for a few hip-hop concerts. I was there on Halloween, when a few girls tastelessly flashed DJ Jon to win the best costume prize. I was there several times to see no-name heavy metal bands. I was there just two weeks ago for a Sly Chi show.

Fortunately, I was not at the bar on the nights that some controversial incidents occurred – all allegedly violent disturbances. I don’t know for sure if those incidents are related to the bar’s closing, but I’m sure the problems didn’t help to attract more customers.

I’m sure other people (i.e., police and city officials) are glad to see the bar go. But many people like me will miss “The Bit.” Maybe we can all go out for a drink and commiserate. Any suggestions where?

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