Once the hardest-rocking suburb in the metro area, Maplewood is losing another of its big and brawny music venues, The Rock Nightclub.

Thursday was the last night of operations at the club, which opened in 1995 in a strip mall at 2029 Woodlynn Av. Bar owner Brian Bauman said his business took a hit from the statewide smoking ban in 2007 and then got worse as the economy skidded.

"We're a place that depends on people's disposable incomes, and people just don't have much right now," Bauman said, fighting back tears Thursday afternoon. "Everybody over here is crying right now. This was a dream to have this place, and it sucks losing it."

Plenty of the bar's patrons agreed. One Rock regular on the club's Facebook page wrote, "I feel as though I've lost a second home." Members of the Twin Cities metal band Throw the Fight were doubly disappointed since they were supposed to play the bar Friday night.

"It was a crucial place for a lot of bands from the Twin Cities, and beyond," said guitarist Ryan Bauster.

Many of The Rock's scheduled performances by nationally touring groups will be moved to Robert's Bar in Mounds View, including Soilwork on Saturday, We Are the Fallen on Aug. 1 and Tantric on Sept. 15. The Rock expanded its format to hip-hop and country acts in recent years to try to drum up new crowds, but Ozzfest-flavored metal bands such as Powerman 5000, Otep and Taproot remained its mainstays.

The Rock's closing comes less than a year after the messy demise of Maplewood's high-profile mega-sized rock club Myth, which closed last August amid myriad financial problems. Myth founder Mike Ogren also opened The Rock but sold it to Bauman before moving on to the bigger venue. The two venues' closings were in no way tied, Bauman said, "except there were less people coming into the area at night.

"Now, it could be really quiet around here."

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658