Underage students hope Surrender stays a reliable nightlife option
South Campus area hosts trend of unstable 18-and-over bar scene
Students on South Campus are used to a few things: rowdy house parties, stuffing their faces at Jim's SteakOut – and dealing with a steady string of bar closures, whether it stems from assault charges or supplying alcohol to minors.
In the last three years, four popular South Campus bars shut down.
At the very least, many bars near South Campus have been unreliable and unpredictable and left the under-21 crowd with few options.
But students have hope the area’s newest addition – Surrender – will stick around. The area that once boasted multiple bar options for students now has two choices: Surrender and staple The Steer. Some still long for the days it was easy to bar hop.
Surrender, which opened in late February, took the place of Mojo's – one of the four bars to close recently – and allows students at 18-plus entry, unlike The Steer.
Mike Miranda, owner of Surrender, decided to turn the venue into another 18-and-over club to give students a place to hang out.
“If you had a friend who was under the age of 21, they still come in and hang out and have a good time and be with friends,” he said.
But lately, students have a funny relationship with the South Campus night scene – they don’t want to get too attached to any location. They don’t trust it – like Morgan Hirschorn, a junior speech and hearing major.
Hirschorn misses Northside, which closed in 2013.
“On any given weekend, Northside was packed with students of all different ages,” she said. “It was nice to have a place where all of the students could intermingle and have a good time, regardless of how old they were.”
But the quick closure of 18-plus spot Molly’s Pub – which Buffalo Police had to shut down in May – left Hirschorn hesitant to trust Surrender would stay open.
She thought it was going to be another bar that “was going to quickly open and shut down within months.”
But after waiting a semester, Hirschorn and her friends were happily surprised with the new bar. She changed her mind about how long the new club would be open. She no longer thinks Surrender is going to be a “quick shut-down like Molly’s was.”
“They scan ID’s and take entry more seriously than Molly’s did,” she said. “[Surrender] still allows underage students to come in and have a good time together, which is something we were missing for a while.”
Jeffrey Basil, who owned Molly’s Pub, is now facing second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter charges. Basil allegedly shoved National Air guardsman, William Sager Jr., down a flight of stairs. Sager suffered traumatic brain injuries and died in late July.
Molly’s was also charged with eight violations of the State Liquor Authority including assault, employing police officers and concealing Basil as the owner of the bar.
Owner Miranda said Surrender has had a 20 percent increase in sales since Molly’s closed.
“When I first heard that Molly’s closed, I was shocked,” said Xavier Perez, a sophomore Spanish major. “When you walked the streets of South Campus on a Saturday night, you would see the 21 and over crowd all buried up in The Steer, and all the other kids my age would either be heading out to a house party or they’d be lined up outside of Molly’s.”
The State Liquor Authority shut down Mojo's, which was 18-plus, for selling alcohol to minors. Miranda of Surrender said Mojo’s had a management issue and was vacant for six months before he had the idea to open Surrender at Mojo’s old location last spring.
Tasneem Ahmad, a junior chemical engineering major, remembers getting into Molly’s Pub with an ID he picked up off the sidewalk that was at least five years expired. His Indian friend got in to the pub with a white man’s ID, he said.
In the past, 18-and-over clubs – like Northside and Mojo's – have been lenient about underage drinking and did not look out for the safety of their patrons, Ahmad said.
“Northside was a dump,” he said. “But it was a fun dump.”
The owners of Northside were facing a court summons but decided to shut the bar down to “bow out and keep their names out of the paper,” Jillian Bangel, a UB alumna and former Northside bartender, told The Spectrum in 2013.
Halley Mangano, a junior communication major, was overjoyed when Molly’s opened, replacing Northside for the same reason many students now are excited to have Surrender.
“Being under 21 and one of the youngest of my friends, it was nice to finally have a place again to hangout with everyone,” Mangano said. “For a while all we could do was turn to house parties to hangout, but when everyone would head over to The Steer afterward, I had to go home because I wasn’t old enough.”
The opening of Molly’s provided the younger students at UB with a place to hangout at after Northside closed down, but just months after opening, Molly’s closed down, too, leaving the younger students without a place to go to yet again.
Surrender has helped fill that void.
Students hope future bars look to places, like The Steer, as an example of how to stay open on the strip.
“If you were to go to The Steer on a Friday or Saturday night, you would see a bouncer in every corner to make sure that nothing bad happens,” Ahmad said.
The Steer opened in August 1993.
Mandango hopes to see Surrender to have just as stable of a future.