The Quarter (Harrisburg,PA)



It ain’t no Hollaback club.

Harrisburg Pennsylvania – often nicknamed the city of cows – is an otherwise nondescript medium-sized city sitting at the intersection of Interstates 83 and 81 in south central Pennsylvania. Three and a half hours west of New York City, Harrisburg’s only claim to fame is its proximity to Three Mile Island. That, and its revitalization of downtown.

What used to be a deserted run-down mesh of sidewalks you’d only be caught dead on after dark has now turned into a bustling, thriving mecca of nightclubs, bars, lounges and restaurants. One of the newest additions to the scene is The Quarter, a New Orleans-themed five-level powerhouse that bucks the trend of just-turned-21 “OMG PARTY BARS” by going after a slightly more mature late-20s-and-up crowd.

Stalker #1
Thursday. Opening night for The Quarter. Everyone in central PA has been hearing rumors about this place for at least a year now. Details were always sketchy at best, so we were double-pumped with excitement when we walked through the front door for the first time.

The first thing that struck me was the lack of security. Not only were there no bouncers in sight, but there was nobody at the door checking ID. That’s not only weird, it’s dangerous. Borderline suicidal in this industry. Anyway, we waltzed right in and took it in: the smell of paint still in the air; Top 40 with a touch of hip-hop pumping through the house sound system loud enough to provide atmosphere but not to be obnoxious. A bar where I don’t hear “Holla Back Girl” 27 times a night? Awesome!

We went to the bar. This is where the trouble begins. I paid $3 for my bottle of Yuengling Lager (try it when you’re in PA, you’ll thank me). A little steep for Harrisburg, but not ridiculous. Then my girlfriend ordered: $9 for a Red Bull and vodka. That, my friends, is beyond ridiculous for Harrisburg! I can walk up the street to our most upscale lounge and pay $7 for the same drink, and THAT would be expensive. The same RBV would cost me $4.50 at a local club. To top it all off, the drink was basically Red Bull; I think maybe the bartender waved the vodka bottle near the drink.

Sometimes you pay for atmosphere, and believe me, this place has a vibe. but they can’t charge 30 to 100 percent more than their competition and expect to stay in business. I think they have a good thing going, but they need to water down their drink prices as much as they water down their drinks.

Stalker #2
We arrived a little after 10pm and got our drinks. My 7&7 set me back $6; and they went a little heavy on the 7 (Up), and not the good 7 (Seagram’s). Still, it’s opening night. I’ll cut them some slack.

Only three of the five levels were open, with the other two slated to open sometime in June. The basement is a very cool speakeasy-like layout, with rough stone walls, old-looking pub tables, and a fake distillery. Damn that thing was cool! Dim red incandescent lights and some multi-color PAR cans shining were the only sources of illumination – nice and dark – on what looked like a stage area or dancefloor. The soundtrack was early twentieth century jazz. Very, very chill. I’m all about my ultra-lounges, but every now and then, ya just gotta kick it old school.

The ground floor is a restaurant serving mainly seafood, with huge roll-up windows that open to outdoor seating. The kitchen has a bar, so you can actually drink while watching the chef! The big problem here was the garage door openers that opened and closed the outdoor windows: The lights kept coming on every 15 minutes. Probably one of those “opening night glitches.”

The upstairs (third floor) was a sports bar. The basement was dimly-lit, and the ground floor was pretty bright, so I wasn’t surprised when I found daylight on this floor. Come on, guys, tone it down. I know it’s a sports bar, but this is overkill. A nice touch was eight quality pool tables – something downtown has been missing for half a decade.

One big deal for me was the sound system. I didn’t get a good look, but I think I saw a few QSC amps scattered around. The sound was clean, and the volume was perfect. Loud, but not too loud to talk over. Overall, this place has potential. Aside from the prices, every complaint I can think of could probably be attributed to it being opening night.

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Copyright 2006 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2006 TESTA Communications