A former Saint John hot spot has closed its doors after 43 years of serving up food and drinks on the city's west-side.

The Aquarius Tavern was a popular watering hole in the 1970s and '80s, and was best known for its menu and friendly service. It was permanently closed on Monday.

Debbie Nadeau, a waitress at the Aquarius since 1996, says there was a low turnover among her co-workers, because of "the people, the customers — it was a great place to work."

"For some people it was their only job," Nadeau said.


The Aquarius Tavern, a former west-side hot spot, was declared permanently closed on Monday. (Google Street View)

"They've been there since it opened."

Nadeau said business has been down in recent years. She credits that to the shift in drinking habits and the emergence of newer bars closer to the city centre.

"It's very hard in the bar now with the drinking and driving laws," said Nadeau.

"People used to go in at lunch, have two-to-three beers and go back to work. You can't do that anymore, but you can't survive on people drinking water and pop."

Nadeau says there were also issues with the building at 990 Fairville Blvd., which needed repairs to its roof.

Pete Ferguson is the owner of Pete's Pub, another popular Saint John establishment, and was a long-time patron of the Aquarius.

He said he remembers long lineups outside the tavern in the late 1970s and said it used to be "the place to go."

"The bar scene was different then," Ferguson said.

"People would frequent the beverage room or tavern on the weekends and go to a nightclub later on. But they would always go there first.

"You could always have a nice time there, everybody knew everybody else, and it was a different era I guess, it's the end of an era."

Ferguson said it would be more difficult to fill a bar of that size today, especially given its location set apart from most other bars.

"Demographics have changed, the actual size of the place — it was a big pub," he said. "It trends now to smaller establishments. It was just a different time, and drinking and driving is a huge issue today."

The west-side landmark is the second bar to shut down this month.

Pump Nightclub, Saint John's only gay nightclub, has announced it will close at the end of March, in part because members of the younger generation don't feel limited to gay bars.

It had been losing money for the last year.