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Indigo, Zeno's, Rathskeller Set State Patty's Day Plans; More Details Released

on February 21, 2012 8:17 PM

The Hotel State College and Co. will close three establishments and reduce hours at three others for State Patty's Day 2012, co-owner John Cocolin said Tuesday.

Indigo night club, 112 W. College Ave.; the Chumleys bar, 108 W. College Ave.; and the Zeno's To Go bottle shop, 100 W. College Ave., all owned by the company, will be closed entirely for the unsanctioned drinking holiday, set for Saturday.

Meanwhile, Cocolin said, the company will trim hours of business that day at Bill Pickle's Tap Room, 106 S. Allen St.; Zeno's, 100 W. College Ave.; and the Allen Street Grill, 100 W. College Ave. He said Pickle's and Zeno's will close at 6 p.m.

The Allen Street Grill will stay open until 10 p.m., but alcohol service there will be available only to those who are dining, Cocolin said. He said alcohol will not be served at the Corner Room, at the same address.

"Basically ... we're trying to discourage State Patty's Day," Cocolin said in a brief phone interview. "We're hoping (the closures and restrictions) will discourage people from coming to town in the future for State Patty's Day."

The Hotel State College decisions bring to 11 -- at least -- the number of licensed downtown establishments that will close for the drinking holiday, now entering its sixth year.

Earlier Tuesday, Dante's Restaurants Inc. announced that its downtown operations will suspend alcohol service Saturday. The Shandygaff, Lion's Den and Levels all have reported plans to do the same.

State College police Chief Tom King has encouraged all alcohol-serving businesses in the downtown to halt or otherwise curtail beer, liquor and wine sales for State Patty's Day. He has made similar requests of local beer distributors and bottle shops.

In a letter this month to licensees, he called on the operators to help the health, safety and welfare of the overall community. State Patty's Day has become the police department's busiest time of year, King wrote. Police calls and arrests hit new highs on the holiday in 2011.

Hundreds of State Patty's Day partiers have come from outside the immediate area, drawn here in large measure via social media and word of mouth. But bars can help undercut the occasion in future years by toughening access now, giving the revelers fewer reasons to show up, King has written.

A number of State College bars, including Dante's establishments and some Hotel State College entities, limited their operations for State Patty's Day 2011, as well.

Among the bars expected to remain open Saturday is the All-American Rathskeller, 108 S. Pugh St. Owner Duke Gastiger said he will take the same steps he followed for State Patty's Day last year.

Those include keeping the crowd to two-thirds of the Rathskeller's official capacity, charging a $5 cover all day, running food specials, nixing liquor specials and not selling any beer pitchers or shots.

The $5 cover charge will allow each customer to receive $10 in food, Gastiger said, adding that "it's important ... to get food in your gut."

He saw no serious problems on State Patty's Day last year and expects none this year, either, he said. His staff is well trained in responsible alcohol service and risk management -- and has been for more than a decade -- even though the state requires no such training, Gastiger said.

"We're clean and mean," he said.

Gastiger said some bar operators in town are concerned with expected scrutiny from the state Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. "But you can't bend over and play dead," he said.

"We're in a legal business serving a legal product," Gastiger went on. "We're trained; we know what to do. Don't pass off society's problems on the bars."

If rough projections are accurate, he said, State Patty's Day will bring about 25,000 people to State College -- and open licensed establishments will be able to accommodate only about 4,000.

That leaves thousands of people to drink in less-structured, less-monitored environments, some bar owners have said.

"We're controlling the amount of consumption here in a licensed establishment," Gastiger said. " ... As a parent, as a community member, where would you rather have somebody?"

Forces that would have the bars close, he said, "are trying to sterilize the community. And that's not what a college town is about."

StateCollege.com is reaching out to other downtown establishments to gauge their plans for State Patty's Day. To reach reporter Adam Smeltz directly, send e-mail to adam.smeltz@statecollege.com or send tweets to @SCNewsDesk.

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