Beleaguered by problems with the state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, Smokey Joe's is down-sizing its 40th Street location and has closed the downstairs portion of the bar. "I'll sleep much better now," Smoke's owner Paul Ryan said of the changes. "It will be easier to control." Smoke's has hired University City Associates, a University subsidiary which manages several properties around campus, to help find a new tenant for the basement. As of the middle of this week, no new occupants had been named. Ryan said that Smoke's will now place a new emphasis on its restaurant business and will introduce a new menu later this summer. He said that the days of the "Rathskellar" have passed and a new type of bar business will prevail in the 1990s. "It's tough to have a bar on campus," Ryan said. "It's time to get smaller." Smoke's has been split between two levels since 1978. Ryan said that no decision has come from the Liquor Control Board regarding the status of the bar's liquor license, which was not renewed last year due to a number of liquor violations. But Ryan said he was confident the license would be renewed. A spokesperson with the LCB said that no decision has been made since the March appeal, but added that the examiner's recommendation reached Harrisburg June 15. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the appeal, Ryan said earlier this summer that he is going ahead with extensive renovations. To avoid losing the memories from the various tabletops and bar-counter space in the basement, a virtual shrine of carved wood, along with other pieces of memorabilia, has been placed in the lobby. Caricatures formerly located downstairs have been moved to a spot along the upstairs walls, and a 1940s sign, which hung outside the bar, is now lit up inside. "The fraternities used to steal the sign once a year," Ryan said. "They would steal it and it would be returned a couple days later." But Ryan said one time the sign was not so promptly returned and had to be retrieved covertly from a fraternity. "We got word that it was in a basement and we snuck out one night at 2:30 in the morning," Ryan said. "We broke into the fraternity and stole it back." Other organizations are getting pieces of Smoke's memories. The Penn Club in New York City is receiving some Smoke's wood that was carved-up as early as the 1930's, according to Ryan. In addition, fraternities with a special affinity for Smoke's are getting souveneirs. Ryan said that Theta Xi and Phi Kappa Sigma are each getting pieces of the bar for their houses. Also, walls have been removed from the upstairs room to allow light from the street to reach the dining room and bar. Other renovations include moving the stage down to the west end of the dining room and adding a small bar in the dining room. "We will be keeping most of the same features," Ryan said. "We will still have the same specials." Ryan added that a dance floor will be created upstairs on selected nights, and noted that a pool table could be put into the lobby.Comments powered by Disqus
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