The Copper Monkey Bought by the Rowdy Reptile on eBay
Local pub and restaurant, the Copper Monkey, will be closing its West University Avenue location this Saturday after 37 years.
The Copper Monkey was bought by neighboring bar the Rowdy Reptile on Thursday, April 13 for $80,1000, just four days after owners decided to list the pub on eBay.
Thirty-six bids were placed after the restaurant was initially listed with a starting price of $9,000.
Averie Johnson, general manager of the Copper Monkey since 2000, said the pub decided to do an eBay sale to give everyone an opportunity to buy the bar.
“Instead of giving the option to just one seller, we wanted to give the opportunity to anyone who had the money, wanted the restaurant and loved the Copper Monkey,” he said.
Johnson believes the recent construction in the area and cancelled game days played a part in the pub’s closure, a sentiment echoed by other local businesses like Burrito Brothers Taco Co., which closed earlier this year.
“The cancelled game days hurt a lot,” he said. “I know parking is always bad around here and the construction just made it worse.”
“I think it’s sad when we lose a lot of the places that make Gainesville Gainesville,” he said. “It’s good that we’re changing and becoming a bigger city with more people and more revenue, but at the same time, you lose out on the key parts of Gainesville.”
Johnson will miss the employees and longtime, regular customers the most— relationships that he calls the best part of working in the Midtown area.
“We had some ladies today that had been coming here since 1991,” said Johnson. “ A lot of people have been coming here since the 90s.”
“We get a lot of people that are in and out and we get a lot of people that come back and want to talk to you and tell you about their family,” he said. “We’ve been here so long, so we get very close to them.”
Johnson believes it is this customer relationship that Gainesville will miss most as well.
“Gainesville will miss having a place where you can be really welcomed,” said Johnson, mentioning the rarity of friendly service in local bars. “There’s not going to be a really friendly place to go.”
Stephen Berkner, a sophomore and computer engineering student at UF, frequented the Copper Monkey whenever his mother came to visit him from South Florida.
She had heard of the restaurant from an alumni friend, and the two have made it a regular stop since.
“The atmosphere was nice and it’s in a busy part of town, which made it great for Gainesville newcomers,” said Berkner.
While Berkner recalls his time spent at the Copper Monkey fondly, he believes selling was the right decision.
“There’s too many bars in that area, so the market is really saturated,” he said.“Since it’s a college town, things are a bit more trendy, so keeping up with the times is important for staying relevant.”
As a result of the closure, some of the employees will be moved to the restaurant’s Newberry location and some may be moved to the Social at Midtown, which shares the same ownership as the Copper Monkey.
The Social is also going to be offering some of the Copper Monkey’s classics by adopting part of its menu, said Johnson.
While Johnson hoped the new owners would keep the Copper Monkey’s name, the Rowdy Reptile is planning on creating a pizza bar and will be knocking the wall down to join the two properties. The Rowdy Reptile also owns the popular bar below, Fat Daddy’s.
“I wish them and every business owner the best,” said Johnson. “Hopefully, they stick around for a while.”
The Copper Monkey will be running specials throughout the week until it closes on Saturday, April 22.
Johnson expects a good turnout, with many regulars, former employees and graduates expected to be returning to bid the pub farewell on its final day.