Bart & Urby’s Closing, Business For Sale
WILKES-BARRE — More than a decade ago, Brian Urbanas took a chance on downtown Wilkes-Barre. Urbanas and a cousin opened the bar and restaurant Bart & Urby’s in a former beauty school on South Main Street in 2005. They welcomed their first customers on Halloween of that year. Brian Urbanas died Jan. 25 after a long fight with multiple sclerosis. His parents, Patsy and Joe Urbanas, are closing the bar and plan to sell the business and building. “He was the heart and soul of Bart and Urby’s,” Patsy Urbanas said. “We were helping out, trying to keep it going with the hope that he was going to come back in some capacity.” Patsy and Joe are in their 70s. They helped Brian with the business when he needed it but don’t want to run the bar on their own without him. Without Brian, “It’s not the same feeling anymore,” Patsy Urbanas said. The bar hosted a celebration of Brian’s life Tuesday. “I don’t know how many people came up to me, or when they were telling stories, and said they met so many of their friends there. It was all thanks to that bar,” said James Merolla, Brian Urbanas’ cousin. “I thought that was something pretty special.” Urbanas took pride in creating a space that celebrated music and art. He opened The Other Side, a venue connected to the bar, in 2013 to host more live music. Those shows are memories that will stay with Merolla, who worked at the bar off and on since it first opened. When people gathered together for a show, they seemed grateful for a place where they could enjoy the music and each other’s company. Patsy Urbanas will remember her son’s sense of humor and how it manifested itself at the place he created. He once purchased a child mannequin he from an Army-Navy store next door and set it up in The Other Side. When a band took the doll as a prank, he told them he would do whatever it took to get it back, including hiring an investigator. Shortly thereafter, the doll — known as “Theo Boyo” — was found tossed next to the venue’s back fence, released from its kidnapping. Patsy and Joe Urbanas have put the building and business up for sale. Patsy hopes someone else will make another welcoming venue in the place that her son dreamed of years ago. When he started the business, she said, downtown Wilkes-Barre had too few restaurants and too many empty storefronts. “He had said to me, ‘I see a time where if one person opens up, others will take the chance.’ And that really is the way it worked out,” she said.