Bar owners worry about State Patty’s Day spillover

When a college party is busted, students often move their activities to another location.

Some believe the same thing could occur in Altoona this weekend for State Patty’s Day.

In State College, 34 bars, restaurants and six-pack stores have agreed to not sell alcohol during the unofficial holiday weekend, hoping to counteract rowdy, often destructive, students.

With their State College options now limited, some think the partiers might decide to come to the Altoona area.

Champ’s Bar and Grill Manager Scott Lucchesi said he’s worried what the weekend might bring.

“It’s just a stressful situation,” he said. “We’re worried. We don’t really know what to expect.”

In addition to Champ’s Altoona, Lucchesi also runs its State College location as well as The Phyrst in downtown State College, one of the 34 businesses that agreed to close or cease alcohol sales over the weekend.

In exchange, they were promised a $5,000 subsidy.

For Champ’s Altoona, Lucchesi said he hopes the distance between the restaurant and Penn State Altoona campus will provide a buffer zone.

There are no specific plans to prepare staff for an influx, but if students do come and cause trouble at either Champ’s location, Lucchesi said he’ll know how to prepare for next year.

Changes could include limiting alcohol sales or at least increasing security, he said.

State College Borough and university press releases said although incidents have decreased, police still made 225 arrests last year, and the local hospital treated 60 people for alcohol-related causes.

Not all businesses are worried, though.

Zach’s Sports and Spirits Assistant Manager Shaun McIntyre said he didn’t hear any rumors about Penn State students visiting, and doesn’t imagine they would cause any problems.

Zach’s is normally packed on weekends, with McIntyre saying he couldn’t even begin to guess the number of patrons on any given Friday or Saturday night.

With larger crowds being the norm, he didn’t think he’d have to worry about accommodating them or reining them in, he said.

Phil Cox, owner of The Island nightclub, also said he doesn’t expect to see a lot of students, but that doesn’t mean he’s not prepared.

“We’re always ready for a pretty big crowd here,” he said, and he’ll inform weekend staff to make sure they’re ready for anything.

From what he’s seen and heard, many still plan to go to State College for the weekend because the event is, after all, a campus-centric event.

They’ll just buy booze here before they leave, he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.