In one of the first articles that ever appeared on The El Vee, we pretty much ripped The Firehouse in Bethlehem a new asshole for catering to the douchiest crowd this area has ever seen. Unfortunately that article was lost to a server crash and disappeared forever from the archives. It held true with multiple visits over the years. The collar-popping meatheads, thugs that think wearing a collared shirt and pounding jagerbombs is classy, and sluts with “clothing” covering their skanky, fake tanned bodies were rampant.
What could’ve been a great bar was not. An old firehouse converted into a firehouse themed bar? Fantastic idea and it had tons of potential. There’s fireman themed craft beer they could have used. The decor was great with antique firefighting equipment adorning the walls. But alas, there were dance poles, a ceiling that leaked on patrons and into drinks, and a staff as shitty as their clientele.
DA John Morganelli called ia a possible nuisance bar and later recanted, announcing that, “I find it safe and I find the owners to be responsible.” Owner Adam Gottwald said, “I want the public to know this is a family place, a nice place, a safe place.” What a crock of bullshit. It seemed to me someone Gottwald is connected to (probably a campaign donor) protested and Morganelli backed down because there is no way this hellhole is a family establishment. Let’s take a look at a sampling of the incidents at The Firehouse: On October 27, 2010 a guy threatened to shoot up the bar and then called his buddies and told them to “come 10 deep.” On October 17th, 2011 a drunk patron threw an umbrella stand through the bar’s window. Yes, of course, this sounds like exactly the type of place I’d like to bring my wife and kids!
Oh, and then there’s the overall shadiness.
This was written by a Lehigh student and appeared in The Brown and White student newspaper:
…That night, I was not only sexually degraded, but I was also roughly dragged down a full flight of stairs by a bouncer who is about 6 feet tall and 300 pounds, solely because he claimed that I was not allowed to bring a pitcher of a mixed drink upstairs, a drink that the owner had actually given me. I have seen men be removed from bars because of physical fighting much more gently than the way I was taken out for trying to have a good time.
After I was dragged out of the bar, my boyfriend called Bethlehem police. When the police arrived, I believed I was safe and it seemed that I was going to be taken care of by them. However, they only questioned the bouncer and took his word as an objective account of what happened. The police patronized me because I was just an “intoxicated” young female who started a problem with a bouncer. I was crying hysterically from the shock of the whole ordeal, yet the police never asked how I was or neutrally questioned me to hear my side of the story.
I awoke the next morning, feeling shocked and humiliated, with bruises all over my legs, feet and wrists. I could not believe I was treated in such a horrible way at a place where I thought I was safe…
And then there’s the sex in the bathroom:
I was astonished at how dirty it was, from the bar glasses (GET BOTTLES… trust me) to the bathroom (while I was waiting, a couple was having sex in there and threatened to beat me up when they came out, just because I banged on the door).
And the nail in the coffin, the money problems.
…The next day I had 3 charges on my card that were all pending with “final amount may change” written for all 3. After a few business days went through I ended up with over $30 in charges to my card that weren’t mine. I still have a $3 charge that “may change”. I called the bar, and after 7 attempted calls finally spoke with the owner. He seemed understanding and said to come in and straighten it out. I went in to find him wearing sweatpants and a dirty tshirt. He seemed very unintelligent and did not seem to understand why the charges would be pending. He reluctantly refunded the $31 in charges that weren’t mine and walked away without saying a single apology or goodbye…
Do not use your credit card at this place. We were over charged $35.00. The phone number on the web site goes to a fax machine. Finally after reaching Adam, the manager/owner at a different number we were told the that a refund will be mailed. That was two weeks ago! We had to get a new credit card number and file a dispute with our bank. Hell of a way to run a business.
Agreed. I used my credit card there last night, I had a tab open, they said they wouldn’t find my tab so I gave them my card again. When I looked this morning I saw they charged me twice, now I can’t get a hold of them, the number on the website goes nowhere be a full mailbox.
With all of this, it should be no surprise that The Firehouse was put up for sale earlier this year for $710,000. It should also come as no surprise giving its reputation that it didn’t sell and it’s now closed. It’s funny that their revenue combined was under $250,000 when the Tally Ho right across the street is bringing in $1-2.5 million a year. Based on all these awesome numbers one can guess they were losing a pisston of money and so it makes sense that tacked on the outside of The Firehouse is a notice that they didn’t pay their taxes and the business will now go to a sherrif’s auction. It also appears Mr. Gottwald has another property, which is listed as his home, up for sheriff’s auction.
It may seem like I hate this place and have a personal vendetta against it. Well, I do hate the place but have no personal stake in the matter. I just want the Lehigh Valley to have good places and that bring good people and this establishment was and did the opposite. If only we could close some of the last remaining shitholes like 40 Below and the Starter’s Riverport afterhours shitshow down, we’d all be better off.
So to the Firehouse, it’s shitty atmosphere and clientele, and everything associated with it, I raise a glass to the demise of this pimple on Bethlehem’s pretty face. Good fucking riddance.
P.S. Someone buy this up and make it a cool bar. Please.
Great write-up. It’s the one place in Bethlehem I never got really into.
The next place can do a lot better… maybe they will get NTN. Maybe? Please? Pretty please?
[…] by Jon #My favorite blog post of the past week had to be The El Vee’s rant on The Firehouse, Douchiest Bar in the Valley Shuttered:In one of the first articles that ever appeared on The El Vee, we pretty much ripped The Firehouse […]
I have only been to The Firehouse once. It was 9ish on a Friday, about a year ago, it wasn’t very busy.
I don’t know the owners and I have no idea how good or bad they are. But I would like to inform everyone of the quirks of charge cards at bars. If your card is swiped for a tab which you then settle with cash, your card will show a pending charge that will disappear in a day or 2. If you charge your tab but ask them to void it because you would like to pay cash , guess what… same thing. If you give your card for a tab for a big group and the bill gets split up among all your friends…. same thing. If you only have $30 in your acct then you go to use it for $25 in gas you will get declined.
I have no idea if the above credit card issues were resolved as I have explained, perhaps they overcharged people I don’t know. But please be careful with your cards at bars. For those of you that check the charges daily, don’t stress about the pending charges unless they bocome settled. And please don’t use your card if you don’t have much in the acct and plan to pay cash anyway.
Just pay as you go.
Owner, Tavern On Liberty
[…] spot was formerly the scene of the douchiest bar in the Lehigh Valley, which thankfully shut down in December of last year. Hopefully the new owners keep the riff-raff […]
[…] Broadway, opened in Bethlehem last night, replacing the former Firehouse restaurant and nightclub that closed in late […]