There’s usually a buzz in the air Saturday nights in downtown Auburn. Music from each of Auburn’s downtown bars spills into the street from their propped open doors.
On this particular Saturday evening, the music thumped louder than usual, and hundreds of conversations filled the air at Quixotes’ last night of operation.
The bar has been a staple of college bar life, game day and many other Auburn traditions for over a decade. It’s full of memories for many current and former bar regulars and has been a place the staff has called home.
“A lot of good memories and a lot of good people that have been on this journey with us,” said Chris Godbold, co-owner and co-founder of Quixotes, commonly known to students as Qs.
Bar patrons lined North College Street that fateful night as the queue to enter the bar stretched to Toomer’s Corner. As the line crept toward the door, lights grew brighter for bar staff to check IDs and control the crowd inside.
Entering the bar for the last time, the smell of beer and liquor fill the air. The surfaces of the bar’s few tables are covered in empty beer bottles and cups. Shoes stick ever so slightly to the floor where many drinks were once split as patrons became just a little too rowdy.
The crowd is spilling out the doors onto the bar’s patios as people weave their way to a small, open space at the bar to order a drink; bar tenders frantically turn, moving in sync to prepare drink after drink.
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The actual light from the DJ’s setup barely peaks through the crowded bar. The lights create a silhouette of the DJ, and he is outlined with strobe and neon lights atop a small stage in the bar’s far back corner. A few girls join the DJ on stage, dancing along to his music, while other dancers fill the small dance floor.
It took 14 years to get Qs to its final night. The bar opened spring break of 2005, about two years after Godbold and his friend turned business partner, John Hyink, decided to take a leap and open the bar. They both agreed the experience is more than they ever imagined.
“I don’t think it was part of my college plan,” Godbold said. “[But] I’m definitely glad that I did it.”
They got the idea to open the bar after working in the hospitality field. They always thought it would be fun to run their own business, but never thought it would happen so soon after college. When the opportunity presented itself, they knew they couldn’t turn it down, Godbold said.
Both men have remained co-founders and co-owners since Q’s first night. Throughout their tenure they have learned a number of lessons.
“We’ve learned a lot of ways not to do it,” Godbold said. “That’s one of the things small business teaches you, everyday is a new challenge. You just have to wake up and rise to the challenge. But it’s always fun to do when it’s in a fun business.”
It wasn’t all books and business for Godbold and Hyink. They have their fair share of fun memories at the bar.
Last week, Qs was about more than saying goodbye to a bar; it was about remembering the experiences everyone had there. Throughout the week Qs asked current and former customers to share their favorite memories from their time at the bar.
Though business is often about customers and their experiences, Godbold and Hyink focused a lot of their time on turning their staff into a family.
“My favorite part of the business is just the people, our employees that work with us and just make every day so much fun,” Godbold said. “But also, the customers that come in the doors.”
Employees and customers alike shared their stories and said their final goodbyes to their beloved bar. Many agreed with Godbold — it’s not the place, but the people inside it.
Andrew Massaro, a former staff member, joined Qs for its last night. He worked a number of jobs at the bar over a two-year period before settling in as a bartender. He said his favorite memories aren’t going away after the final last call.
“The people is what makes the place,” Massaro said. “The building is old and its time for an upgrade, so I’m excited for them. I’m excited for their success.”
He spent many hours with his co-workers, especially on game-day weekends. Massaro was a frequent flyer of the two-a-day shifts, working upwards of 14 hours a day with the same people.
After work, it was their time to hang out. They would find one of the few places in town still open after the bar closed to grab a bite to eat and swap stories from the crazy night.
“Sometimes I would spend 24 hours in a row with these people,” Massaro said. “I miss that.”
Some employees, like general manager Dade Nunnally, have spent much more time with people they met at the bar.
“I met my wife right in there by the small bar,” Nunnally said as he gestured to a bar tucked in the corner of the building. “My brother met his wife right in here, at this bar. His wife introduced me to mine. I know probably another 15 or 20 people that have met here over the years.”
It’s sad to see the building where he has met some lifelong friends and spent so many hours go, but the memories won’t fade like the painting of the Qs logo on the front patio or the smell of spilled beer.
Those memories come from the experiences he had and the people he was with, not the building they were in.
“To be here in the middle of the day and have people in here and like into it, all cheering for one thing whether it’s the U.S., Auburn or whatever it is, that’s really cool to see,” Nunnally said.
For Nunnally, it’s about the staff and the people he’s met because of the bar, people like Catherine Cirigliano, a bartender at Qs who said working at the bar has introduced her to many different people.
“There’s very few bars in Auburn, so it led me to interact with a bunch of different people,” Cirigliano said. “The staff is incredible.”
That staff Cirigliano is so fond of isn’t going away as the two friends and co-owners of Qs aren’t done with bar life yet. For the last three to four years, Godbold and Hyink have work shopped and designed a new bar that will soon open just down the street from Qs.
Part of the reason they decided Qs had reached its final days was the space.
“Quixotes was such a fun spot, but I think we just got to the point where we need a little bit more room if we want to be able to show everybody everything we can,” Hyink said.
The new bar, called The Southeastern, will feature two stories. The bottom floor will be similar to Qs, including pool tables and the typical college bar atmosphere. The upper mezzanine level will feature large booths and a separate bar serving wine by the glass and a full cocktail menu.
The upper level will also feature a larger food menu. Godbold and Hyink said they are even thinking about opening the upper level, which has a separate entrance from the lower level, for lunch.
Many of the staff members at Qs will join Godbold and Hyink in their move to The Southeastern. The owners hope to bring the same experiences patrons and employees enjoyed at Qs to the new bar.
“We’re just extremely thankful for everybody that has supported us throughout the years,” Godbold said. “Just proud to be a part of downtown Auburn and the downtown Auburn experience.”
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