Business owners react to the closing of Mercyhurst University’s North East Campus

Local News

Thursday morning, Mercyhurst University announced they will be closing the North East Branch by 2021.

Anne Lewis of Red Letter Hospitality who owns Skunk and Goat Tavern in North East said the college has been near and dear to the community. Lewis said she isn’t sure what will happen with business.

“I hope with whatever they end up bringing in or choose to do with it, it’s beneficial to our town. It is a beautiful landmark in the town,” said Anne Lewis, Red Letter Hospitality.

Elizabeth Bittner, who manages Speed EEZ Sports Bar, thinks there will be a decline in business. She said they regularly see students coming in for select college nights.

“Its nice seeing a younger crowd coming in on weekends. We have a DJ. It’s kind of sad to see them go, they have been here for so long. They did the fireworks display. It’s a part of our community,” said Elizabeth Bittner, Manager, Speed EEZ Sports Bar.

While all of the business owners we talked with said they will miss seeing the university here, some said they don’t think there will be a significant impact to their business.

“As they’re saying, a lot of the students were commuters from other areas, and they would come in, get their studies done, and go. We didn’t see a lot of students mingling downtown all the time,” said Lori Ion, Serendipity Consignment Boutique.

Either way, business owners all agree, they hope the space will not sit vacant. Ion even proposed an idea.

“My guess is you know, why don’t we put a community college in there. That would be pretty nice,” said Ion.

As nice as that sounds, there has been no word on what will fill the space after the university leaves.

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