Lewiston Social is lower Lisbon Street's last club standing

LEWISTON — Silvio Martin was joking around with bartender Nicole Corliss one night about six years ago. The two were splashing water on each other behind the bar at the Lewiston Social Club, when one of the members got caught in the middle.

Lewiston Social Club
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Silvio Martin stands in the entry of the Lewiston Social Club on Lisbon Street in Lewiston waiting for a customer. Business has been so slow recently that he is considering closing the doors to the only remaining social club on the street that once flourished.

Lewiston Social Club
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Silvio Martin sits at his bar in the Lewiston Social Club on Lisbon Street in Lewiston recently.

He didn’t appreciate getting splashed.

“He hit her with a bottle, then I came around the bar and he stabbed me with a knife,” Martin said.

It was just a flesh wound, so Martin chased the guy out into the street. He got away. Neither Silvio nor Lewiston police ever caught up with him.

But he never came back; Martin tore up the man’s membership card on the spot. If getting too drunk and rowdy can get you kicked out of the club for three nights, stabbing the club president can get you banned for life.

It’s the last such rough incident Martin said he can recall at his club.

“We have one bouncer — me,” said Martin, 64. “I might not be big, but I don’t put up with anything.”

Martin's Lewiston Social Club is the only members-only social club left on Lisbon Street. Nine years ago, when Martin took over the club, there were five clubs just a few doors on either side of him, plus a couple of bars. They've all either gone out of business or moved from lower Lisbon Street.

"The one thing about being down here is that most people don't want to come in and drink right around the corner from the police station," Martin said. He can see the LPD's parking lot from his window — and the police can see his patrons.

"They don't want to take the chances and drink a couple of beers and then get pulled over for an OUI," Martin said. "It was different when people lived down here and could walk to the bars. But now, they've moved away."

For the most part, that extra police scrutiny doesn't bother Martin. He's not doing anything wrong and neither are his patrons. Member Waldo Marais of Auburn said he likes to come in and just relax and listen to some music.

“We like to keep it quiet,” Martin said. “We don’t want it to get too crazy in here. We like it the way it is now.”

Martin still lists 1,100 members, but only about 50 regulars. They pay $6 for the privilege to drink and smoke in the club. He manages the club's main room, with its dance floor, pool tables and other games. It's open seven days a week, from noon to 1 a.m.

His son manages the adjoining bar, Heaven and Hell, and its more intimate rooms, which is open on weekend nights.

"But it's all under the same license, and everyone that's a member is welcome on either side," he said. "We don't discriminate."

He's proud of the club and the fact that Lewiston police rarely have to visit. Still, he wishes things would pick up a bit — just enough buzz to bring the members in for a night or two.

“I’ve made this much this month — zero,” Martin said. “I’m having to pay out of my own pocket to keep things going.”

Part of it is the time of year.

“They’re at camps and they just don’t come in,” he said. “And, then, as soon as they start coming back to town, you got your balloon fest and they go to that. July and August, it’s always like this. It picks up in September.”

The club has also had some bad luck. He moved into his current spot a year ago, leaving the smaller space at 339 Lisbon St. after that building’s owner died.

“The daughters took over, and they didn't want me in there any more,” he said. The new club is bigger, but his rent is almost double what it was.

He's had a tough year, too. His wife died this summer, and he's been diagnosed with throat cancer — he hopes it's treatable and will go in for surgery in September.

Plus, the main cooler behind the bar is broken, awaiting a key part before the repairman can fix the condenser. It’s been that way for four weeks, and Martin has brought in a household kitchen refrigerator to keep the beer cold.

“But people come in and they see that cooler, that it’s empty, and they leave,” he said.

Still, the club has weathered worse.

"It will pick up, and people will start coming back in," he said. "It's done this before and we've survived it. We plan on being around for a long time."

staylor@sunjournal.com

Project home: The Changing Face of Lisbon Street

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Comments

Ron Hubbard's picture

The Somalijournal....

Where was the article about the Gang arests (The True Somali Bloods)....Wouldn't want to shine a light on what these people are really doing...And did anyone ever notice the one complaint we never hear about these Somali's" They took our jobs".Thats the one thing they won't take....

Ron Hubbard's picture

Lisbon st

For the people who thinks this is good for our economy have you ever been in or bought anything in these somali stores???Probaly not because they don't want us in them....How can this bennefit the economy if they are starting these buisness with our money and the people shopping in these DUMPS are using city and fedral bennefits...It would cost the city less money to have these storefronts sit empty than to keep giving everything to the so called Somaili community....At least when the clubs and bars where open people where spending their own money not the citys money!!!!

 's picture

To Brain

Brain, you are so right. But then again I knew this was going to happen when they all started coming here. It's no wonder that when the Somali's first came to the USA, they were sent to live in Georgia, but Georgia didn't want them. They cried and whined to their elders that they felt as though their lives were at stake living in Georgia, so research was done, and it was found that Maine was the state with the lowest "racial" crimes. So lucky us, we got them. Georgia had the right idea however, they weren't going to just let them take over everything, as they are being allowed to do here. What makes it even more sad, here they got all of the loans that were given out to open small businesses(and I know for a fact...our American Vets, couldn't even get any money to start businesses of their own)and even with the opportunity to start their own businesses, they are still the first ones to get in the lines for free hand outs !
And to joeziehmer , I am far from being a racist, or a biggot, but I love my country, I love my State,and I love the town I was born and raised in, and unfortunately we have to sit and watch it all betaken away. Now if the people who had already owned businesses in downtown Lewiston had been given the opportunity to get some of this loan money, they could have kept their own businesses going. But that wasn't going to be allowed to happen either. Were you even living in Lewiston, or are you even old enough to remember when the KKK came to to town, they camped right on the outskirts of Lewiston? Everyone lived in fear that weekend. No one dared to go outside or wander too far from home, because they didn't know what was going to happen that weekend, even though the police had cordoned off the area where the KKK were camping out, and were going to attempt to stop them and not let them come into town.I remember it all like it was yesterday. Most of them still refuse to learn to speak English. Even when the Koreans started living in Lewiston years back, they learned English. I guess my question is: What is making this dang people so dang special, to be handed everything they get for free, while everyone continues to struggle? Maybe the Sun/Journal needs to do a flip side story of how we are losing everything we know and love about Lewiston ! Now because I have spoken my mind once again, the comment section will get closed, as it did in the Free Shoe giveaway !

This WHOLE section

I Can't believe the Sun URINAL would print this RUBBISH !!! This is NO LONGER Lisbon Street Lewiston Maine... it's Lisbon Street Mogadishu Somalia.... This paper has NO BACKBONE but to give in to these people.

Mogadishu

The Somalians take better care of it then a majority of the racists such as Icecat.

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