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College senior Sean Carey, right, and a friend enjoy drinks at the opening of Copabanana, the new margarita bar that replaces Billybob's on Spruce Street. The bar opened for the first time on Friday night. [Liz Guise/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Copabanana, the successor to Billybob's, opened its bar on Friday and Saturday nights, giving both patrons and employees a chance to test drive the newest campus late-night destination.

"I liked the place," College senior David Gorlin said. "It was delicious. It was really crowded, and that was my only complaint."

"We had to lock the door," said Joe Cucolo, Copabanana partner and manager. Cucolo estimated that 300 people passed through the eatery Friday night.

Renovations are still underway on both the bar and restaurant sections of the facility -- however, Cucolo says Copabanana will be open today serving a limited menu, and he hopes to be fully functioning by Wednesday.

"I thought it was all right," Engineering senior Kelechi Wami said. "It was definitely different than what Billybob's was before."

Wami said that the bar seemed a little more spacious and was aimed at a more upscale crowd.

Others who visited over the weekend were not so impressed.

"I thought it was essentially Billybob's with margaritas," said Engineering senior Dean Bordeaux, who added that his margarita was "pretty boozy."

In addition to the drinks, patrons were offered quesadillas, cheesesteaks and the restaurant's signature Spanish fries to taste test, free of charge.

Copabanana head chef Corey Harris said that "the quesadillas went good," and that he whipped up 74 to 80 servings each night.

"The free food was what made it the best," Gorlin said.

Others were disappointed at the food quality.

"The food was all right," Wami said. "It could have been better. It was free, and they weren't putting in much effort."

Cucolo said that the weekend opening was mainly for the benefit of the bartenders.

"This is a big bar," Cucolo said. "It is better for the bartenders to only open for a couple of hours to be able to get used to it."

Copabanana signed a lease to rent the 40th and Spruce street location two weeks ago.

"I think it is a really good addition to campus," Bordeaux said. "It provides competition for Mad 4 Mex."

"It is nice to have new places, even though they are not really new," he added, noting that the Billybob's sign and the plywood used to partition off the area still under renovation were "a nice touch."

"Billybob's didn't have good cheesesteaks anyway," he said.

Copabanana's original venue is located at Fourth and South streets and has been in business for 25 years.

Visitors said the operation was meticulously checking patrons' IDs. In addition to being scanned, photographs were taken of each ID.

Wami described it as "more tough than any other place on campus" to get into.

Gorlin said he thinks the strict ID checking is due to the frequency with which Billybob's was raided by police for lax policies.

Other students who were interested in entering became discouraged by the strict security.

"I was scared to go in," College junior Jill Lawless said.

Copabanana will be holding a grand opening sometime within the next two weeks.

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