Post-pandemic hardship prompts Between The Uprights closure in Turners Falls

Between The Uprights bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls has closed.

Between The Uprights bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls has closed. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Lew Collins has closed Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls.

Lew Collins has closed Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Lew Collins has closed Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls.

Lew Collins has closed Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The side bar room at Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls.

The side bar room at Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The pool room at Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls.

The pool room at Between The Uprights sports bar at 23 Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-09-2024 11:18 AM

TURNERS FALLS — Between The Uprights, a sports bar at 23 Avenue A, has gone out of business, as owner Lew Collins closed the doors for good on March 31.

Collins took to Facebook on Thursday to break the news to the community and explain the rationale behind his decision. He wrote that the business has been for sale since May 2023 and he simply cannot continue operating it while he waits for a buyer.

“It financially puts a burden on me,” he said in an interview. “It’s nothing that we’re celebrating. In our eyes it’s a very sad moment.”

Collins, 61, purchased the business and changed the name in 2008, having started as the bar manager when it was 2nd Street Sports Bar five years earlier.

“It’s surreal,” Collins said on Friday. “For the first time in 21 years I’m not heading down there to work for the weekend.”

Collins said the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the bar industry and his business closed for 17 months. He said he survived on savings and pandemic assistance, but Between The Uprights never fully recovered and a lack of customers and sales has forced its closure.

“The past few years it felt like COVID all over again,” he said. “People just don’t go out like they used to. It’s drained me financially, as well as physically and emotionally.”

On the business’ Facebook page, Collins thanked his loyal customers and expressed his regret to have disappointed people who couldn’t stop in for “one last drink.” He also asked people to understand his decision and support his staff during this difficult time.

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Collins said he intends to sell his equipment and his liquor license.

Musician Scott Kuzmeskus, who performs as Scotty K, first played at Between the Uprights about 20 years ago and had his last gig there over the summer. He said Collins built a good stage on site but the pandemic was too much to overcome, like it was for many businesses.

“He could have had Dave Matthews in there, it would have been the same thing,” Kuzmeskus said. “He did his best.”

He said the public health crisis changed many attitudes toward nightlife and dining out. Still, he will remember his time performing there fondly.

“It was good,” Kuzmeskus reflected. “It was fun back in the day.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.