PJ’s Pub and Schnapp Shop leave Charles Village

By ALYSSA WOODEN | September 7, 2017


courtesy of morgan ome Many students appreciated the friendly atmosphere at Schnapp Shop.

After serving the community for decades, PJ’s Pub and the Charles Village Schnapp Shop both closed their doors over the summer. These establishments were frequented by Hopkins students, faculty and staff, and news of their closing prompted outcry from many.

For 33 years, New Jersey native Jerry Smith owned PJ’s, which was located between the Charles Commons dorm and The Charles, a private apartment building. Smith said he decided to retire because he thought it was time for a change.

“After a while you get tired, you don’t have the energy and you get bored,” Smith said. “A lot of my friends are retiring, and... I decided I had enough.”

Nevertheless, Smith said he greatly enjoyed owning a pub near Homewood campus and that many students and faculty have influenced him over the years.

“Some of the faculty I became very, very close friends with over 25 years, 30 years,” he said. “Hopkins people taught me how to think.”

Although Smith has many great memories from his time at PJ’s, such as the 2005 lacrosse championship, he said that running a pub next to a college campus was sometimes difficult.

“I didn’t like being called an asshole when I was turning people’s ID’s away, which would happen... sometimes three dozen times on a Friday or Saturday night,” Smith said. “I was just trying to do my job. It rubs you the wrong way.”

Smith reflected on the significant changes Charles Village has undergone over the years. He noted that many rowhouses had been replaced by townhouses, and he said that some buildings had been knocked down entirely to make room for new businesses. He also added that the number of Hopkins students has increased dramatically since 1984.

In the future, Smith plans to buy a house in Delaware and is considering moving there full time by this spring or next summer. He is thankful to the Hopkins community for their friendship and support.

“The alumni and people have been wonderful. My adult life here has been very interesting,” he said. “It was a different life than most of my friends have, but I probably enjoyed most of the things.”

In addition to serving food and drinks, PJ’s also hosted trivia nights and weekly dance parties, which many Hopkins students attended. Will Krause, a recent Hopkins graduate, said that PJ’s was an important part of the Hopkins community and that it would be missed by many.

“The closing of PJs is pretty upsetting for a lot of students who have spent their upperclassmen years at the bar. PJs had every characteristic of a classic college bar,” Krause wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Any future vendor will be hard-pressed to replace the atmosphere that PJs provided.”

The Charles Village Schnapp Shop, a bodega located on North Calvert Street, closed in June after 30 years in business. Schnapp Shop, which sold liquor, groceries and other amenities, was a staple for many Hopkins community members.

According to sophomore Mehroz Ahmed, rising rent prices caused by a change in ownership of the Peabody Apartments complex where Schnapp Shop was located ultimately led to its closing.

Although Eddie’s on St Paul Street also sells alcohol, many students were saddened by the closing of Schnapp Shop.

Senior Jonathan Smith cited the friendliness of the owners and the convenient location as factors that set Schnapp Shop apart from its competitors.

“As someone who has a lot of friends living down by 30th and 29th streets, it was really convenient to have a liquor store right there, because it’s so much closer to that area than Eddie’s,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “It also seemed like the same woman was always working the cashier behind the bulletproof glass. She was always super nice and always had a huge smile on her face.”

Ahmed, who lived near Schnapp Shop over the summer, also had a good relationship with the owners.

“I got to know them and would look forward to seeing them every week on my grocery run,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “For me, what set it aside from other major suppliers, like CVS and Eddie’s, was the warm personal touch provided by the owners.”

Senior Preston Wessells also felt that Schnapp Shop was an important landmark of Charles Village.

“Schnapp Shop was just a small bodega, but it played a role in tying together the Charles Village community,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “On any given day except Sundays, one could visit Schnapp Shop to find fellow classmates and locals gathering supplies for the night to come.”

Smith noted that Schnapp Shop was also known among Hopkins students as a place where underage students could buy alcohol.

“I’d heard from my underclassmen friends that Schnapp was the only place you could go with full confidence that your fake ID would be accepted,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Now that both Schnapp and PJ’s are closed I don’t know where underclassmen are going to get alcohol.”

Senior Rachel Huselid felt the Schnapp Shop was important because she found that it as a safe way for students to obtain alcohol.

“When I first came to Hopkins, it was somewhere where I felt that I could get alcohol safely, without having to rely on frat house jungle juices,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

Huselid emphasized that relying on fraternities for alcohol can be dangerous, although she believes freshmen will continue to drink regardless of the lack of safe means of obtaining alcohol.

The closing of Schnapp Shop is saddening to many Hopkins community members and Charles Village residents, who are already concerned by the gentrification occurring in surrounding neighborhoods.

Ahmed discussed his disappointment with the closing of such an important institution.

“When I heard that the Schnapp Shop was closing, I was upset, as expected. I spoke to the owners and offered my condolences, and we discussed future plans for the establishment,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, for this small local business, rising rent proved to be fatal. However, I will always remember Schnapp Shop with a fond heart.”

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