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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Averie Johnson considers everyone at the Copper Monkey family.

But after seven years as general manager, Johnson is one of several locals mourning after owners announced the sale of the bar and restaurant, located on West University Avenue, on eBay earlier this month.

Johnson confirmed Monday that the owners of the Rowdy Reptile, a bar next door, purchased the restaurant for $80,100.01. Thirty-six bids were placed before the auction ended Thursday.

“Gainesville just lost a piece of its heart,” he said.

Johnson said he knew there was a possibility the Copper Monkey would join the handful of restaurants closing their doors in the wake of skyrocketing rent and construction on West University Avenue.

When the landlords raised the rent prices in January, demanding $8,500 monthly instead of $7,000, it became too difficult for the owners, the Zeller family, to keep profits up,

Johnson said.

For Rigel Straehlow, a regular at the Copper Monkey, the bar was always a place to meet new people or study for his UF classes.

“I don’t regret my time here,” the 26-year-old alumnus said. “I accept that it has to eventually come to an end.”

The new owners will take over April 30, and Johnson knows he isn’t staying, even though he can’t say for sure how the restaurant will change.

“They’re going to lose a real down-home place,” he said. “I’m just going to take the knowledge, the memories Copper Monkey’s given me — and a few regulars.”

Contact Emily Cochrane at ecochrane@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @ESCochrane

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