Oak Bluffs nightclub to close soon
With changes to the building already underway, the Atlantic Connection nightclub on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs will close its doors for good at the end of the month.
Owners of the popular nightclub said this week that the Atlantic Connection would close after the annual Big Chili Contest on Jan. 28. A "Last Blast Party" is scheduled for Jan. 27.
The owners plan to open an arcade in the large downtown building. Seasons Eatery and Pub, the adjacent restaurant under the same ownership, will continue to operate, but under new management.
AMR Vineyard Inc., the company that owns the club and restaurant, has two owners, Robert Murphy of Oak Bluffs, a realtor, and James Ryan, owner of Ryan Family Amusements, a Cape-based amusement company. Mr. Ryan plans to move the Dreamland Game Room, a seasonal arcade located on the second floor of a building on Oak Bluffs Avenue owned by Mr. Ryan, to the Atlantic Connection location.
The change from a nightclub to an arcade includes a facelift on the Atlantic Connection building. Photos by Ezra Blair
This week, Mr. Murphy said that he hopes to have the arcade moved in by April 15.
He said that before the change is made the building must be renovated. Preliminary work on the façade of the structure began last month. This week the front of the building was encased in plywood, but Mr. Murphy said he hopes to have the exterior improvements finished within the next week.
Mr. Murphy said the street-side improvements would add color and architectural characteristics more in line with other downtown Oak Bluffs businesses. There will also be a handicapped-accessible entrance.
Interior renovations are yet to begin. Mr. Murphy said that after the annual chili contest the bars will come out and the work will begin. He said the main first-floor area that the nightclub currently occupies would be expanded all the way to the back of the building, where the kitchen is currently located. The kitchen will be moved to an area of the building behind the Seasons dining room.
Eric White, the new manager at Seasons Eatery and Pub and the soon-to-be arcade next door.
Along with the physical changes in anticipation of the new use, the owners have also hired a new manager. Eric White, who has an extensive background in culinary arts and business management, began work at the nightclub and restaurant last month.
Mr. White, who grew up on Cape Cod, said he is excited by the changes already underway, and is looking forward to future improvements.
After the Game Room moves in renovations will begin at Seasons, according to Mr. White, who hopes to begin work on the restaurant early next year. He said the layout of the dining area will be updated, glass doors opening on the street will be added, and the exterior will get "an overall facelift," to match the Game Room.
In the short-term, Mr. White said that he plans to update the menu with several new items. He also wants to improve the web site to make it more interactive.
"In a year or so the building will change, and in the meantime I'll be updating the menu and freshening things up while keeping the great atmosphere of a friendly neighborhood pub for the whole family," he said.
Mr. White fills the shoes of Michael Santoro, manager of the Atlantic Connection for the last 13 years. While he will leave the nightclub and restaurant behind, Mr. Santoro will not go far. He said he plans to focus his attention on the Lookout Tavern, where he is a part owner.
"We have an exciting project at the Lookout to rebuild it, and we have already begun the permitting process with the town for that," said Mr. Santoro.
Mr. Santoro called his departure from Seasons and the Atlantic Connection bittersweet. "It's been a lot of fun," he said. "I will certainly miss bringing in and working with some of the bigger acts, like the Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, and also the Boogies and Entrain."
Commenting on the change from a nightclub to an arcade, Mr. Santoro said, "Times have changed, and it has become more and more cost prohibitive to bring in the acts and run a nightclub. The population base on the Island has also changed, and so has the attitude about going out. It's a different landscape than it was when I started."