"Everybody's talking about what's been happening in the past," said Davis. He would rather see a social club at that location than another bar.

Council member Cynthia Mota agreed with Davis, but also was unhappy that council had been given misleading answers.

Croslis insisted there was no intent to deceive or hide any information, adding: "If it came out that way, I apologize."

City Council could not simply delay action on the transfer request because it was running out of time. If it did not act within 45 days of Feb. 10, the transfer automatically would have been approved.

"We're at 37 days right now," said council member Ray O'Connell.

Assistant city solicitor Dale Wiles said the applicant could agree to an extension.

Council's role

City Council only approves liquor license transfers from other municipalities.
Council member Peter Schweyer explained if a liquor license is transferred from one establishment to another, it does not come before City Council for approval.

"That's just state law," he explained.

Schweyer said El-Chaar could get such a transferred license and reopen his bar and pizza shop.

"Is the Slovak club operating a private club a better option than taking the long-term risk of Tony buying his own liquor license or somebody else acquiring that property and doing their own liquor license that we'll have no control over?" asked Schweyer.

Saying clubs like the Slavonic Society are part of the fabric of the city, O'Connell said the choice is an established club that has to abide by all the Liquor Control Board rules and regulations or another nuisance bar at that location.

Slavonic Society history

Croslis said the non-profit Slavonic club was been in existence since 1919 and had a liquor license for 70 years, with no citations for liquor law violations.

The club's last home was in the basement of Holy Spirit elementary school, a Catholic school in the city. The club's quarters had a bar, TVs, a juke box and even two bowling alleys.

Croslis said in 2004, the Allentown Catholic Diocese evicted the club from the school basement. "They decided they didn't want a bar in the basement of an elementary school and I can't blame them."

He told City Council he has a personal interest in representing the social club: "I was a member and I actually bartended there when I was in law school."

He said the club's members have been looking for another place since 2004.

Because the club could not find another home, it eventually lost its liquor license.

"This is a bunch of guys - and women, but mostly guys - who are just looking to get back what they had when they were evicted in 2004," said the lawyer.

"The only way a non-profit club like this can get another license is to purchase one from another non-profit club," explained Croslis.

Croslis said he's been working with the club for years to find another location and license. He said it still has a core of active members that would like to see the social club reopen.

He stressed it will be a private, members-only social club, not a bar open to the public. He said all potential members have to go through a criminal background check and their membership has to be unanimously approved by the club's board.

He also said the club will not lease the place to others, such as for wedding receptions or other parties. Nor will bands perform there.

Croslis said the club could remain open till 2 a.m. but he expects it will close by midnight. "It's not a bunch of young guys sitting around."