The new Kelliann's Tavern will take the place of Murphy's Tavern, a popular local bar. When students returned to campus for the fall semester, the bookstore was new, High Rise North had become Hamilton College House and the food court had been transformed into the Moravian Cafes. And now, the winds of change have blown through another area icon. Upperclassmen might remember Murphy's Tavern on the corner of 44th and Spruce streets. It recently returned under new management as Kelliann's Tavern, nearly two years after a judge forced it to close because of frequent liquor-law violations. John O'Connor, along with his wife Kelliann and his brother Dennis, bought the bar from its previous owners in July. They renovated the bar all summer and officially re-opened it for one night last week, though the owners are waiting for license-related paperwork to be processed and it is unclear exactly when it will open for good. "We like the neighborhood," John O'Connor said. "And the previous owners always did very well here." Murph's was noted among students for a willingness to serve alcohol to underage drinkers, and was plagued by frequent raids by the Pennsylvania State Police's Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. The bar was cited three times between 1993 and 1997, and received a total of nine citations in the 36 years that it was open for business. The owners, Joseph and James Murphy, were forced to close the bar after a judge refused to renew their liquor license in January 1997. The new owners know the Murphys, but they hope they don't have the same problems that their friends did. "I know they had a lot of problems towards the end, but this place was always a great hangout," O'Connor said. "I hope to stay here for 40 years like they did." Joe Murphy also wished them luck. "With the liquor control board," he said, "they sure need it." Many Penn students, most of them graduates or upperclassmen, were on hand to celebrate the grand opening and remember old times. "The first time I came into Murph's, I was six years old," said 1996 College graduate Tim Allen. Allen, son of Arabic Professor Roger Allen, grew up a block away from Murph's. "I remember going there for the first time when I was 15. My sister brought me there when I visited campus -- it was the only place that we could get into, and we didn't want to go to a frat party," added College senior Nicole Kaplan. Kaplan said she continued to go there as an undergrad, noting that "it was nice seeing Joe Murphy at the door saying, 'See you at church on Sunday.' " O'Connor said the new owners "don't want any problems with the LCE." Although Murph's was known for underage drinking, the new owners don't want any of the problems the Murphys had to deal with. Murphy's opinion of the LCE and current drinking laws are strong as ever. "They call people minors when they're 18," he said. "So an 18-year-old can buy a bar and tend it, he just can't drink in it. You know what I think of that." Although a sign isn't up yet -- the old Murphy's Tavern sign still has to be taken down -- the new owners are set on the new name. But like many newly named-features of the Penn experience, a name is only a name to many students. "I don't care what it's called," said Kaplan. "It'll always be Murph's to me."Comments powered by Disqus
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