But almost immediately, noise generated by the attraction became an issue. And on May 3, mall management informed Shortino and business partner Jerod Schoonmaker that Smash Syracuse would have to operate during mostly non-mall hours. The public reception “was outstanding,” said co-owner Steven Shortino. “We were sold out the first two days a week in advance” and had to turn away around 30 groups that showed up without reservations, he said.
“That pretty much eliminated the walk-in traffic, which was the main reason we were there in the first place,” Shortino said. Advance bookings also dropped off. Eastward expansion
A build-out of the space is underway, and the hope is to open in about a month, Shortino said. Syracuse had been on Smash Therapy’s radar for some time.
On July 5, it revealed that its new Syracuse location will be in Westvale Plaza, less than three miles from Destiny USA. The spot, in a former Hallmark store, has just one neighbor, a vacant supermarket, so, “we will be able to operate under normal hours and be AS LOUD AS WE WANT,” proclaimed another Facebook post. So, on June 28, less than two months after its grand opening, Smash Syracuse announced on Facebook it was vacating the mall, having failed to receive “the neighborhood welcome we had hoped for.”
“We were getting all kinds of people (from Syracuse),” he said, and saw an opportunity. The business launched in 2018 in Henrietta, and it wasn’t long before Shortino noticed that the niche enterprise, located in the Frontier Commons plaza off Jefferson Road, was drawing a fair number of customers from other upstate cities including Buffalo, but more so from Syracuse — and not just students, as you might expect.
Shortino’s understanding is that the complaints came from adjacent non-entertainment retailers. Smash Syracuse leased a spot on the shopping center’s second level. Chosen by mall management, it wasn’t far from Apex Entertainment and Escape the Mystery Room. In discussing expansion plans, he and Schoonmaker thought, What better place to open a second location than Destiny USA? It’s geared toward entertainment and offered something the original spot in Henrietta doesn’t: significant foot traffic.