By: Samantha Johannesen
Five Points in Columbia is well known for it's restaurants, shopping and especially it's nightlife. The competition between the venues for customers has definitely gotten stronger. Bars have been closing down and re-opening with new owners, and new beginnings for years. These new owners have re-done these beat up bars completely. From new flooring to new bathrooms.
Not only are bars being closed, remodeled and re-opened, but Five Points is not the only place to go for an exciting night on the town any longer. The Vista has been pulling customers away from Five Points.
The reputation for violence that has built about Five Points over the past few years isn't helping either. But, the city is doing its part along with bar owners to help get Five Points back to the fun, safe environment it once was.
"There are about six to a dozen cameras on each street and now cops are now wearing cameras around their necks to help with safety," Daniel Wells, the owner of Carolina Pour House, says.
The bars are not only struggling with the reputation of Five Points, but they are going through quite a "Price War." According to Jason Anderson. Anderson has been a bartender in the area for 14 years and says that this has been going on for about eight years now. He believes new owners are striving for more customers and having lines out the door instead of just running a successful business.
Over just the past year, five bars closed down and have been re-opened with new owners. Red Hot Tomatoes is now The Cotton Gin. Sharky's is now Latitude 22. Sharky's Too is now The Attic. Pour House is now Carolina Pour House, and Kildare's is now The Horseshoe.
Kevin Johnson is the general manager of The Cotton Gin and he's only been here for about a year.
"I wouldn't be surprised if three or four more bars shut down in the next six months," he says.
Some bartenders understand, that, in reality the competition is just business.
"You get so many people fighting over a small pie, that like any business, you know, business is business. People are going to be cut throat," David West, a bartender since 2005 says.
"I see this as a great opportunity for all the bar owners to get together and figure out what's best for five points in the future. You can't hate on a nice guy trying to run cheap drink specials to get his name out there. If we have to take a hit for a year, so be it. He's just trying to make money himself," The Horseshoe owner, Marcel Melow, said.
Five Points has always been a competitive area and it will continue to be one, says bar owner Keith Johnson.
These bars base their prices and drinks off their customers, college students. If having cheap drinks is what it takes, then some of them are going to do that.
"You know, Pavs has Mondays, The Bird Dog has Tuesdays, Jake's has Wednesdays...even though we're trying to have Wednesdays with liquor instead of beer, Carolina Pour House has Thursdays, and weekends are for everyone," Melow says.
To see the latest specials you also can check out the twitter account, @5ptsSpecialsSC.