By Kaitlin Pulvino | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Kaitlin Pulvino
What happened to the crowd, which made its way beachside every weekend night, eager to sit at Dunes Cracker House for 30 minutes of free drinks served by St. Augustine’s favorite bartenders? Or the taxi rides to Panama Hattie’s on a Thursday night filled with poor college students excited to drink free for two whole hours?
The night life in St. Augustine has changed drastically in recent years. The crowds that once assembled beachside are now occupying the streets of downtown.
The Standard, which opened November of last year, has joined the list of beachside rivals. Owner Adam Amoia says that he welcomes the competition. “It keeps you striving and driving to be better.”
When Adam first opened The Standard there were no local businesses that he felt threatened his venue. However, he has learned that there are many businesses who do not wish to see him succeed.
Thursday night’s crowd has migrated towards The Standard, making it on average, the busiest night for the club. Brian Hubbel, a bartender at Panama Hattie’s since it opened in 2003 believes this decline in business is due to two things: “More bars have been added to the entertainment night life and more bars have opened downtown. Downtown allows people to walk to the bars and experience numerous places at once,” said Hubbel.
Panama Hattie’s nightlife is dwindling however, the establishment is firing back at their competition by making legendary nights like “Sink or Swim” even more appealing. They now offer no cover for girls, allowing them to drink free from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. They are also expanding quarter beer night on Tuesdays by hosting a winner takes all beer pong tournament.
Ryan Hall, a senior at Flagler College has along with many other students, abandoned his solo cup at Panama Hattie’s for downtown bars.
“Driving home from the beach was always an issue,” said Hall. Murphy O’Brian, another senior at the college said, “I grew out of it. It was cool as a minor, but now that I’m older, it’s not worth it.”
Will things eventually turn around? Or should students say goodbye to the bars that have hosted so many great memories? The entertainment scene in St. Augustine is small and choices are a good thing. However, the potential loss of entertainment options cannot be good for St. Augustine as a whole.