Broadway Social, a popular South Side restaurant and nightclub on Broadway St., closed its doors at the end of June after its liquor license was suspended.
Greg Salomoni, the former owner, said it seemed like the city didn’t want Broadway Social to be a part of the community. Salomoni said he thinks the police always gave him trouble and never wanted his club to succeed.
“(The police) started with noise (complaints), then they kept on coming with underage (drinking charges),” Salomoni said. “Everyone in college now has an ID from IDGod, and these IDs get scanned. So, it’s hard for us to keep underage people out.”
Salomoni said he thinks the police singled out Broadway Social because it was the busiest place in the area. It received four citations and 61 incidents of disturbance and noise since it opened in 2013.
Isaiah Birdsong, a Bethlehem resident and barber at The Final Touch Barber Shop, wasn’t surprised to hear Broadway Social closed down.
“It wasn’t a reflection of anything that I saw, but I heard a lot of negative things about it,” he said. “I heard that they let underage people get in and they had a lot of noise complaints.”
Broadway Social’s closing falls in line with a trend of bars shutting down on the South Side. Both J.P. MacGrady’s Pub and Leon’s Bar and Restaurant shut down in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Birdsong said he used to visit MacGrady’s at least once a week to socialize, but he now prefers to go Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub.
“MacGrady’s used to be my favorite place to visit just because I liked the atmosphere and diversity there,” Birdsong said.
Maria Castro, ’18G, said most of her friends stopped going to Leon’s and MacGrady’s her sophomore year. She said she heard that Leon’s had issues renewing its liquor license and the owners of MacGrady’s were forced to shut down due to financial problems.
Castro said she expected Broadway Social to close down after seeing the other establishments close.
“Lehigh is nearby, so (they) get a lot of customers, but a lot of them have fake IDs or are underage,” Castro said. “So it’s hard for them to stay open if so many underage people are getting in.”
Castro said she thinks The Funhouse, Molly’s and Sotto Santi Restaurant are stricter with fake IDs, so they are following the correct policies to remain in business. However, she said students will still miss Broadway Social because it was the only disco nightclub in the South Side area.
Salomoni said although it is hard to control people when they are partying, he wished he had invested in a better ID-scanning system to prevent underage people from getting into his club.
He said the university was definitely a big part of Broadway’s success. He said he has no doubt that the new owners will be successful, as they are investing a lot of money into the new establishment.
Broadway Social’s liquor license is in the process of being transferred to TBS Venture Inc., which Salomoni described as a Philadelphia-based restaurant group. The new owners plan to open a sports bar in place of Broadway Social.
Salomoni said the new establishment will be geared toward a young crowd, with many of the menu items priced under $10.
This headline should read: Bar Owner Admits and Serves Underage Patrons; Surprised When Liquor License Gets Suspended
Seriously?! The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is strict, and the owner should know or have figured that out in the many years Broadway Social was open (and served people underage). Additionally, the Bethlehem Police Department has made its mission to curb underage drinking, especially by Lehigh students, well known. One would think that the owner of a bar right off campus would be smart enough to look past the profit potential of serving people underage towards the long-term viability of his business. There’s a reason that the Tally Ho has been opened since the beginning of time (or 1933 according to its website) and The FunHouse has been open since the 70s.
Instead of blaming “the city” for not succeeding, I would reflect a bit more on taking advantage of underage customers in order to make a buck because that’s what it boils down to. Moreover, maybe consider the neighborhood–you know, the people that lived here first.