BY Patrick Kernan, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Brian Urbanas, owner of popular downtown Wilkes-Barre bar Bart & Urby’s, died Friday afternoon following a years-long struggle with multiple sclerosis.
Urbanas’ oldest brother, Joseph, confirmed Brian died at River Run Rehabilitation at the age of 39.
According to Joseph, Brian was incredibly proud of Bart & Urby’s, saying it grew into having a far larger presence than anyone could have imagined.
“He wanted it to be this New York-style bistro, that would have music playing,” Joseph recalled. “But then it got this legendary status.”
Bart & Urby’s became a de facto home base for much of the Northeastern Pennsylvania underground music scene, with numerous bands that found their footing in the bar going on to have successful careers.
“It seems like he succeeded in really going down in history,” Joseph added.
Joseph Urbanas said he and his family are “devastated” by the loss of Brian, but they are humbled by the outpouring of support that’s been visible from the local arts community.
Opened in 2005, Bart & Urby’s doubles as a music venue. News of Urbanas’ passing prompted an outpouring of condolences from area artists, particularly those on the underground music scene.
“Every interaction I’ve ever had with him was great; he was always super kind, funny, always talked about how much he loved all the bands,” said Ed Cuozzo, guitarist with the band University Drive.
“He was just a really, really great guy and I think he had a lot to do with the Wilkes-Barre music scene and Scranton scene,” Cuozzo added.
Others took to social media to memorialize Urbanas.
“Farewell to a longtime friend and supporter of NEPA’s underground music scene,” read a post on the Facebook page of local band Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms. “We’ve shared many great times and have had a ton of fun on your stage over the years.”
Local agency Barnstorm Booking suggested Urbanas was a pillar of the local arts community, helping get Barnstorm “to where we are today.”
“Brian Urbanas was a very thoughtful and caring person, who always did his best to accommodate us and anyone else he met,” the post continues. “He will be dearly missed.”