and Jaclyn LaPlaca It isn't the first time Murphy's Tavern has drawn attention from the law, but the University City fixture may be forced to close its doors at the end of the month. West Philadelphians and University students alike have gathered in the neighborhood bar at 43rd and Spruce streets for 36 years, but agents of the State Police's Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement have also been a common sight at Murph's -- as the establishment is known -- recently. And now, two years to the day after the bar's last run-in with the LCE, Administrative Law Judge Tim Savage will decide whether to revoke Murph's license on January 28. LCE agents have issued nine citations to the bar and owners Joseph and James Murphy since 1960, but three have come in the past four years. The most recent charge dates from January 28, 1995, when agents caught 63 underage drinkers at Murph's. Some of those drinkers told The Daily Pennsylvanian then that they had showed their PennCards as proof of age to get into the bar. The bar's license has been in jeopardy before -- for example, it operated under temporary authority for a year until November 1995, when the license was renewed. And in 1993, the LCE forced it to close for two weeks as punishment for two citations issued the previous year. But Joseph Murphy -- now a seasoned veteran of battles with the LCE -- pointed to the tavern's clean record in the past two years, saying the upcoming decision doesn't really have him too concerned. "I already have plenty of gray hair, so I'm not going to worry about this trial," he said. "It's just one of those bad things that I have no control over." He said he cannot predict the outcome of the trial, calling the LCE agents "mysterious." "Those police are never going to leave us alone, but the students shouldn't be the ones to worry," Joseph Murphy said. "My Penn students might come too early, get caught by the guys and get fined a few dollars, but its no big deal -- the bars are the only ones who really suffer." Murphy said his lawyer, Joe Ryan, characterized the bar's chances at the hearing as "hopeful." In 1995, Ryan had praised the decision to restore the liquor license. "I was happy that a long-standing establishment on campus was able to save their business," he said then, speculating that LCE agents must have conceded that it's difficult to keep underage drinking away from college campuses. So for now, at least, it's business as usual for Murph's. "My biggest worry right now is that my bar has been empty for the past two nights," Murphy said. "Where are all the students?"Comments powered by Disqus
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