Last call at Hot Rock Sports Bar & Music Cafe


Lindsey Shaw, of the Township of Chesterfield, won the aerial guitar competition on February 9, 2013, with the group Sponge, pictured, when the club was known as The Ritz. Now known as the Hot Rock Sports Bar & Music Café, the popular venue has closed after being sold.

File photo by Donna Agusti

    The Wicked Wisdom group, with actress Jada Pinkett Smith, perform during the club's Ritz days.

The Wicked Wisdom group, with actress Jada Pinkett Smith, perform during the club’s Ritz days.

File photo by Will Harrah


WARREN – The music scene at a local venue is now quiet.

On July 18, the Hot Rock Sports Bar & Music Cafe served its last call when it officially closed. Hot Rocks manager Joe Sgroi said the building had been up for sale for “some time” and had been sold to a private company.

“It’s bittersweet,” Sgroi said. “We had awesome bands and a lot of great fun where everyone could meet and have a great time. We have also done a lot for the community. I will miss everything, the concerts and the people I work with.

Sgroi noted that the club was not closing due to COVID-19 as the building was for sale before the pandemic. Throughout its history, the Hot Rock Sports Bar & Music Cafe has ventured through numerous renovations and name changes including New York New York, Hoover Roadhouse, September’s and the Ritz.

The club, located at 24300 Hoover Road, featured live rock, heavy metal, punk and country music. No matter if it was a local group or a national group, the club always attracted a crowd.

On the afternoon of July 18th, Howie Herula and Katie Marroso sat on the outdoor patio to remember all the good times. Over the past five and a half years, Marroso has bonded with customers while working as a bartender, and Herula was a regular at the club turning records as a disc jockey or group booking.

“My heart is very full. I have so many memories of so many local bands and so many clients who have become friends, ”said Marroso. The bartender was hard work, “but it was always worth it in the end. “

Marroso has always enjoyed the bar where he can organize American Cancer Society fundraisers.

“Everything was great,” she says. “We always had a lot of fun. I’m not going to say “goodbye”. I’ll say ‘see you later’ and ‘thank you’.

On the final day, Herula included a songlist featuring the bands that once performed at the club. Music played overhead as customers stopped for a final hurray.

“I’ve been coming here for 33 years since I was 18,” Herula said as “3873 Marlborough St” from the Trash Brats. blown through the speakers. “I have worked here to some extent from New York New York. Here they gave anyone who wanted to play a chance. This bar has always given you a chance.

Herula’s connection to the club dates back to seeing her favorite local bands tear the stage apart: Seduce, Toby Redd, Rhythm Corps and Halloween. Meeting Hollywood actress Jada Pinkett Smith when her band Wicked Wisdom performed in the 2000s was a highlight, as was Five Finger Death Punch before the band broke.

But the most memorable moment came in 2006 when Hank Williams III – grandson of the late Hank Williams Sr. and son of Hank Williams Jr. – performed Herula’s wedding reception in front of 300 two-step guests.

The bar was just not a music club, but housed Xtreme Intense Championship Wrestling, or XICW. The Sunday night show was an attraction for wrestling fans. Last Sunday, the athletes trained among themselves before the show. Their camaraderie was easy to spot.

One of XICW’s biggest supporters was there: retired Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty, who has attended many Hot Rocks wrestling shows over the years.

“It’s a family atmosphere. It’s the people involved who bring me back, ”McCarty said. “What I love about it is getting to know the group of wrestlers. You get the same fans coming back. The energy and the atmosphere of this evening will blow up the roof of the place. “

The star athlete is hoping to help the group find another location now that Hot Rocks has closed.

“It’s like saying goodbye to Joe for us,” McCarty said. “We all have these memories.”

Wrestlers Jeremiah Goldmain and LJ Lawrence have learned the news of the building’s closure.

“It’s the end of an era,” Goldmain said. “Because this is our last show, it will be the greatest show we’ve ever done. “

“Everyone is going to turn up the volume, so that’s good, but at the same time, it’s bad because it won’t be here anymore,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence has been wrestling for 20 years and Goldmain joined the circuit last year.

“This place always fills up and it’s more intimate than what you see on TV,” Lawrence said, adding that if a fan calls out a wrestler, “they’re going to watch you and give it back right away.”

“Everyone is in the whole show. They know they are going to have a good time, ”Goldmain said. “Almost everyone has the guy who is their favorite.”


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