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Dante's Downtown Establishments to Shutter Bar Service for State Patty's Day 2012

on February 21, 2012 12:27 PM

All the Dante's Restaurants Inc. establishments in downtown State College will halt alcohol service for State Patty's Day, company directors announced Tuesday.

That brings to eight -- at least -- the total number of downtown establishments that will not serve the boozing crowd on the informal drinking holiday, set for Saturday. The Lion's Den, the Shandygaff and soon-to-launch Levels -- in the former Mezzanine space -- reported last week that they will not open for State Patty's Day.

State College-based Dante's, among the oldest and biggest bar-and-restaurant groups in the area, includes Bar Bleu, 114 S. Garner St.; Inferno, 340 E. College Ave.; the Saloon, 101 Heister St.; the Deli, 113 Heister St.; and The Hopshop, 117 Heister St.

The Deli will remain open Saturday, but only for food service, said Jennifer Zangrilli, the Dante's director of operations. She said her company's other downtown venues will close entirely, as they did for State Patty's Day 2011.

The Lion's Den and the Shandygaff closed for State Patty's last year and in 2010, as well.

"We want to be responsible. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to the community," said J.P. Mills, the Dante's director of nightlife and marketing. He said State Patty's Day has had "an undeniable impact to the community," including extraordinary demands on emergency medical services.

Likewise, Zangrilli said, the holiday's "sole purpose is to drink constantly." It has grown to "unmanageable proportions," she said.

Many State Patty's visitors come to town with no respect for the community here, which makes it markedly different from a Penn State football weekend, Zangrilli said. "We're left with picking up the pieces afterward."

She and Mills said the Deli again will provide free meals to volunteers who participate in a borough-supported community-outreach program Saturday. All in all, they said, Dante's will forgo about $50,000 to $65,000 in potential top-line -- that is, gross -- revenue by not serving alcohol downtown Saturday.

Among their reasons for closing, Zangrilli and Mills said, Dante's leaders considered heavily the input from borough police Chief Tom King. He has leaned more dramatically on downtown establishments this year to curtail operations for State Patty's weekend, they said.

"Any time the community speaks out, the Zangrillis have always been: 'What can we do to help?'" said Mills. " ... I think our decision (to close) is based on that we feel we are part of the community."

(Dante's was founded in 1963 by Andy Zangrilli, Jennifer Zangrilli's father.)

Dante's leadership also noted -- with some concern and sense of risk -- the stepped-up State College patrols planned by the state Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, Jennifer Zangrilli said.

Started by Penn State students as an alternative to St. Patrick's Day, State Patty's Day is now in its sixth year. Its popularity has grown well beyond Penn State, though, drawing hundreds of out-of-towners via social media and word of mouth.

Police calls and arrests climbed to new highs on State Patty's Day weekend last year, even as many downtown bars closed, limited their hours or tightly capped crowd sizes for the day. King has encouraged all liquor licensees in the downtown to take similar steps this year.

A variety of other efforts to subdue the State Patty's atmosphere are under way, too. They include a ban on State Patty's Day parties at Penn State fraternities; a limit on weekend guests in University Park dorms; shortened hours at state liquor stores; and community-outreach programs. (See a related earlier column on this page.)

State College and Penn State also have adjusted their public-parking plans for the weekend.

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