Rafters closes in Amherst to make way for pot shop

  • Rafters Sports Bar and Restaurant at 422 Amity St. in Amherst. The business closed after 28 years on Wednesday.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/5/2019 3:51:09 PM

AMHERST — Rafters Sports Bar and Restaurant, an institution since 1991 that was often filled with patrons before and after sporting events at the University of Massachusetts, closed Wednesday to make way for a new marijuana dispensary.

The Jolly family, which has owned the business since 2001, announced the closure in an email to The Gazette.

The Jollys have known that the restaurant would eventually be forced to close after the building was sold for $2 million in 2016.

But Herbology Group Inc., which will use the 422 Amity St. site for both medical and adult-use sales, only informed the family this week that the lease is being terminated immediately.

Herbology recently completed its Zoning Board of Appeals process and earlier signed a host community agreement with the town.

In a news release, the Jolly family expressed “great sadness” at having to shutter one of its two establishments. The other is The Pub on East Pleasant Street in downtown Amherst.

“For the past 28 years Rafters has had great success as a sports bar and as a place for the Amherst community to gather; the journey has been a good one,” the family wrote.

The Jollys also cited the quarter century of hosting The Rafters College Towne Classik Road Race to raise money for the Jimmy Fund and the Amherst Police Relief Association, and other fundraising events supported by its staff and managers, such as the St. Baldrick’s head shaving event to provide money for researching a children’s cancer cure, as organized by Yvette Rowan Stern.

The family gave appreciation to Tara Lashway, who led the team at Rafters for 25 years and was recently a finalist for a Howdy Hospitality Award of Western Massachusetts.

In addition to bringing in people before and after games at the nearby McGuirk Alumni Football Stadium and the Mullins Center, Rafters became a place to watch other sports teams in the region, like the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.

For now, the family will continue to operate The Pub, and is also planning on running a new restaurant on University Drive to be known as Savannas Bar and Bistro.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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