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Rocky's Big City Games & Sports Bar closes at Eastern Hills Mall

Company says lack of customers and lease dispute forced it to shut.
Posted at 2:07 PM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-24 22:06:32-04

CLARENCE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Rocky's Big City Games & Sports Bar at the Eastern Hills Mall is now closed.

It opened in February 2016 after its operators invested over $4 million at the former Dave & Buster's location.

The restaurant/entertainment destination originally had close to 75 employees and was seen as a possible model for a national chain with its arcade games, bumper car rides, and six-lane bowling alley.

It is now empty with only the bowling alley and some bar fixtures remaining.

Operators tell 7 Eyewitness News that Rocky's was losing so much money from lack of mall traffic that it could no longer operate. The operators said they were attempting to re-negotiate a lease when things turned sour with the owners of the mall, Mountain Development Corp. (MDC) from New Jersey.

"They turned off our water on Friday," said Tammy Recckio, a local realtor who helped broker the deal for Rocky's to be at the mall.

According to Recckio, the Mall tried to prevent Rocky's from moving out its collection of arcade games by blocking doors with a truck. Police and the Town of Clarence then got involved, explained Recckio, who said workers for Rocky's were forced to remove a front window to get things out.

Calls to the Eastern Hills Mall manager to find out more have not been returned.

However, 7 Eyewitness News has learned that MDC filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court on October 23rd against Rocky's claiming it owes over $136,000 in back rent. The lawsuit also sought an injunction preventing Rocky's from removing items.

Operators for Rocky's acknowledged there is a dispute over money but said it involves "tenant inducement" money that was owed by Mooney's Sports Bar & Grill. Mooney's previously operated at Rocky's but ended its operations at the Eastern Hills Mall location over a year ago, explained Recckio.

INFORMATION FOR FAMILIES WHO HAD BOOKED EVENTS:

Buffalo Battleground on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Tonawanda has agreed to help take over events that were booked at Rocky's.

"We are not going to be up-charging any of those parties. We will honor all the pricing," said Buffalo Battleground co-owner Brett Burnsworth, who added his business will also accept parties that were paid for and donated to others. "The first thing that came to mind is that it is terrible news," exclaimed Burnsworth.

Buffalo Battleground started as a competition site for Airsoft but has expanded to become a full service family entertainment center with arcades, mini-bowling, laser tag, and a restaurant.

As to why Buffalo Battleground is succeeding while Rocky's failed, Burnsworth felt it was simply the result of location. "If you go to that mall, there really aren't many people there; not just at Rocky's, but at some of the other places as well. So, I think it really comes down to the mall."

Tammy Recckio said there is no way to compensate customers who had pre-bought points for use at Rocky's.

"We are really sorry. Thank you for patronizing us while we were here," added Recckio.

Rocky's is the second large, family entertainment center to close its doors locally. RPM Raceway at the Walden Galleria Mall also closed in mid-October. The company said it is moving to Poughkeepsie, N.Y.