Not enough members?

Also briefly testifying was Andrew Osika, vice president of the social club. He said it was a family gathering place and "we never had any problems." He estimated about 20 people are interested in restarting the club.

Hendricks questioned whether the social club has enough members to afford to pay the rent. He's concerned that the same people who frequented the bar when it was open to the public will attempt to become members of the Slavonic Society club.

"Then we're going to have the same problems we had before," said Hendricks.

Croslis said the club will rebuild its membership. He no longer is an active member, but will become one.

Kistler said she once was a member of the Slavonic Society social club, but no one ever did a background check on her unless it was done without her knowledge.

She said she never saw disturbances or problems when the club was in the school basement and that it was very family-oriented, although she added: "Some of them drank too much."

Croslis assured Kistler the club will not serve intoxicated people.

"That's the law," he said. "I educate all my clients that you can't serve visibly intoxicated people. They'd lose their license. It's taken me five years to get them this license; I don't want them to lose it."

Problems at Tony's

Croslis initially said Tony's Pizza became a nuisance bar a couple of years ago, when El-Chaar leased it to other operators. He told council he represented El-Chaar at the time and played a role in shutting down those tenants.

"I don't like nuisance bars," declared Croslis.

Allentown police captain Tony Alsleben told council that police dealt with numerous incidents when the previous business was operating at 1139 Union Blvd. He mentioned noise complaints, drug arrests and shootings.

While Croslis focused on problems that happened when El-Chaar leased the place to other operators, Alsleben said many of the disturbances happened before that, when El-Chaar was running the business.

"What's going to change?" the captain repeatedly asked council.

El-Chaar told council he doesn't want to deal with a bar any more. "Plus I want to deal with good people," he added.

Council member Jeanette Eichenwald accused Croslis of being disingenuous in his presentation. "It's a different spin on the story now," she said. "I'm grateful that the captain brought that to our attention."

Croslis said El-Chaar rented the former bar to other operators because things got out of hand and he thought they could control it.

"I wasn't trying to mislead you," he said.

Neighborhood objections

Richard Wilburn, president of the Midway Manor Community Association in east Allentown, told council: "We're hoping that the decision you make this evening is going to be good for the east side. We believe a good decision for the east side is to not allow any additional liquor licenses in that part of the city.

"East side has enough liquor licenses. We do not want to issue another one."

Wilburn said that position is based on other problems residents already face in east Allentown "as well as problems that had existed at Tony's."

Dennis Pearson, president of the East Allentown Rittersville Neighborhood Association, said his organization also does not endorse the social club operating at that Union Boulevard address.

Pearson suggested El-Chaar, the property owner, intends to continue operating a grill there, in addition to the social club.