November 8, 2007

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Last night at the Uptown
Manchester says so long to a downtown institution
By Alec O’Meara aomeara@hippopress.com

The color of choice was black at Uptown Tavern in Manchester on Wednesday, Oct. 31, as longtime patrons and employees filled the proudly self-described dive bar to send off one of the city’s longtime cornerstones for live music and good times.

There was no band, and the bar was almost empty save a few tables and chairs. The upstairs was closed to customers, and the only music was from the radio. None of that, however, stopped those present from celebrating. “Boston” John Wilson, a local businessman, made a special trip from Boston for the closing of the Uptown.

“I remember when the carpet was put in. Now, the carpet is just linoleum,” Wilson said. “Seriously, there’s a place in the back that the carpet is so run down it’s shiny like linoleum.”

Near that part of the bar, a large group of current and former employees of Uptown, many of whom now work at other area clubs, traded stories about their time at the Uptown and laughed about the staff’s longtime motto, “F.E.A.” The acronym loosely stands for “Truck ’em all,” except that truck isn’t actually the first word.

“I’m sad that the place is closing down,” said former staffer Vickie Pelletier. “Where are we going to bring our kids when they turn 21?”

Dave Somers, who with Roy Arsenault co-owned and managed the Uptown for the past 15 years, hopes the party will move a bit south. The partners also own and manage Raxx Billiards, three blocks down on Elm Street, and will have a bar and nightclub area in the pool hall. “We joke around and say that it’s a family, but it was a family,” said Mike DesRoches, who served as general manager of the Uptown for the last nine years.