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Crocodile Rock loses liquor license

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 16 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 18 2013 04:30:12 AM CST

Croc Rock loses license

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A longtime Allentown club plans to venture into under-21 shows.

The booze is now banned at one of the Lehigh Valley's biggest concert venues, but will the move cause the bottom line to bottom out?

The taps are "tapped" and the bar is barren at Crocodile Rock in Allentown.  The longtime club recently lost an appeal to keep its liquor license.

"I was kind of surprised," said owner Joe Clark.

According to Clark, the problems started back in 2009 after a shooting outside the club.  That, combined with several liquor violations -- including selling to minors -- led the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to label Croc Rock a "nuisance bar."  The club was allowed to continue serving alcohol until last month, when a Lehigh Co. judge upheld the LCB's decision not to renew the license.

Clark disagrees with the LCB's assessment, saying the volume of complaints is small compared to the number of customers in the club's 16-year history.

"Two million people-- do the math," he said.

Clark claims the news could be a blessing in disguise.  He plans to market more to under-21 shows.

"We're just going to do the shows we weren't allowed to do before, meaning the kids' shows where the artists are under 18 years old, and there are thousands of them," he said.

Clark said he's already booked several alcohol-free shows into April, including the popular youth pop group R5, which plays in April.  He also plans to pursue Christian rock groups which had previously stayed away from a venue serving alcohol.

But will adult-oriented bands, and their over-21 fans, abandon Croc Rock now because it's dry?

"I don't think so," said customer Corey Kratzer, who believes bigger-name acts will be enough to draw crowds in regardless of beer sales.  "Yeah, definitely."

The venue faces stiff competition from music venues that can still serve booze, like the Sands Casino and the upcoming downtown hockey and concert arena.

In the meantime, Croc Rock plans to appeal the LCB's decision.