A little more than three years after it opened, The Underground cafe and nightclub has closed its doors on Genesee Street — but will reopen under a new name at the Fingerlakes Mall.
Owner Mike Henty said Wednesday that he closed the 144 Genesee St. business, which operated as a cafe during the day and an alcohol-free nightclub after the sun went down, in July because the rent was too high. He plans to reopen the coffee shop and nightclub at the Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius under two new names: The Riverbend and The Poz Club.
"The name The Underground worked because we were underground. It was kind of simple," Henty said of his decision to rename his business.
The coffee shop and nightclub will both be safe spaces where young people and those struggling with substance abuse can gather to hang out, attend meetings and find support. The coffee shop, which is not associated with the coffee shop of the same name on Genesee Street, also serves veterans for free. Henty is opening The Poz Club in conjunction with Marc Mero, a former professional wrestler and now motivational speaker. Mero runs an organization called Champion of Choices, an anti-bullying initiative. Henty, who went to school with Mero, said the two have discussed partnering to open the club for years.
All the profits from The Riverbend and Poz Club, just like with The Underground, will go to support Henty's nonprofit Ministro Ministries, a faith-based group that provides at-need housing, vocational training and other means of support for the community. He said the mall has been incredibly supportive of his efforts to help the community.
Henty also owns Kid Star Sports Academy and Senior Strong Health Club and a private fitness center in the mall called Fit Conscience, which is open to youth, veterans and those in recovery to work out for free.
"It's our way of helping youth stay focused, make the right choices and provide a healthy activity," he said. "Experts recognize fitness as something that helps people in their recovery."
Henty said he expects his coffee shop and club to be open by Oct. 1. For more information about programs offered for substance abuse — from one-on-one counseling to group meetings — contact Henty at (315) 406-0000.
"It's most important to focus on helping people in recovery and those who have remained sober stay positive and continue to encourage them, even if they're a day sober," Henty said. "They need to be supported."