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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
NEWS  |  CAMPUS

The Social at Midtown closes its doors, future plans unclear

A midtown favorite closes after 8 years

The Social at Midtown pictured on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.
The Social at Midtown pictured on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

UF students chugged bottomless mimosas in their last visit at The Social at Midtown May 5, after the expansive, two-story bar situated on West University Avenue across from campus announced it would close its doors. 

“After 8 years, The Social at Midtown is coming to an end,” The Social said in a May 2 Instagram post. “We have been grateful these past years for spending it with you all. We are so glad you were part of our family this long and experiencing this journey with us.”

Gatorbolt LLC, owner of Gainesville properties including Camelot Apartments, purchased the building The Social operated out of and leased it to Sunpubs Group, a Tampa-based dining and entertainment conglomerate. Sunpubs Group did not respond for comment, leaving future plans for the bar unclear.

The Social’s end is the latest in a series of closures and reacquisitions in Midtown. Grog, a Midtown sports bar known for its status as a quintessential part of freshman initiation to UF, closed its doors in May 2023 after 27 years of operation. Three months later, two more Midtown staples —The Rowdy Reptile and Fat Daddy’s — also closed and were replaced by Lil Rudy’s.

In the wake of these closures, uncertainty over Midtown’s future lingered in students’ minds. 

Abraham Hilu, a 25-year-old UF political science junior, said he is worried about further real-estate development in Midtown. 

“Students shouldn’t have to fear that their favorite place to go after studying hard might get turned into a mall,” Hilu said.

Additionally, he said new Midtown businesses have failed to innovate. One of his key hopes for the future of Midtown is other members of Gainesville’s community outside of UF students will provide their support for Midtown as a place of social engagement and relaxation rather than real-estate development.

Laura Tagliente, an 18-year-old UF pre-professional biology junior, said she expects the bar to reopen with a new name. 

“Honestly I’m hoping for maybe a name change and that’s it. Lowkey not even a name change. I like [The Social],” she said.

For Tagliente, the new owners should only make small quality-of-life additions.

“They could change seating to make it more comfortable and not in the way of everything,” she said.

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Other students expressed mixed feelings about changes in Midtown. 

Oden Dillenkoffer, a 19-year-old UF computer engineering freshman said he was disgusted by the state of the Midtown bars.

“The bars seem gross and do not seem fun,” he said.  

Dillenkoffer hopes the new owners open something that adds to campus culture, he said.

“I’d like to see them open literally any store or restaurant there, I just don’t want to see them develop into apartments or something else that sucks the soul out of the region around campus,” he said.

Naomi Eshghi, a 19-year-old UF business freshman, said she hadn’t visited new Midtown locations like Lil Rudy’s since new ownership but thought student promotion and further involvement from businesses could convince her otherwise.

Eshghi also voiced her concerns about safety in the area. 

“There’s always a negative feeling about [Midtown],” she said. “It’s a little bit sketchy.”

On multiple instances, she witnessed “people screaming at each other” on the street. She suggested that “if the area was cleaner” it would make it “automatically feel better.”

Students and Midtown frequenters will have to wait and see how Sunpubs Group transforms the building formerly known as The Social.

Contact Avery Parker at averyparker17@outlook.com. Follow him on X @AveryParke98398.


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Avery Parker

Avery Parker is a third-year English and History major covering university affairs for The Alligator. Outside of reporting, Avery spends his time doting on his cats, reading, and listening to music by the Manwolves.


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