Saturday, April 11, 2009

Old Croc vs. New Croc

When I first moved to Belltown in 1990, the space that the Crocodile occupies was a defunct Greek restaurant. I think it was called the Athenian or some such. Well, some lawyer-lady (who later married REM's Peter Buck) got the bright idea to open up a club there and the rest is history. The Crocodile Cafe became ground zero for grunge. Yeah, all that stuff was going on right across the street, but I didn't really get in on it. Even if I'd had the money to go see those shows I probably wouldn't have gone. I'm not really a "going-to-shows" kind of guy. I've only seen a handful of shows there, but I did used to go in to have breakfast on the weekends. I stopped doing that in the mid-nineties after I kept finding pieces of metal and glass in my food. For those 10-plus years, we coexisted peacefully. The Croc did its thing; I did mine. And that was just dandy.

It was pretty surprising when it closed in December 2007. I mean, people were always lined up to get in, even on weeknights, and it just seemed like the place would go on and on like that forever. No such luck. Yeah, apparently they went broke.

I knew that something would come back in that space. It just took a while. In the meantime, it became a graffiti magnet and a local eyesore. Dumbass taggers from miles around wanted to leave their scrawl on the building. I don't have any pictures from that sad time, but believe me, it looked just awful. Well, in October a bunch of worker-guys showed up and completely gutted the place. The subsequent renovation seemed to take forever. It finally reopened last month. The sign out front is the same but a few things are different. First off, the restaurant is gone. It's been replaced by a pizzeria. I don't think that's a bad thing at all. The inside has been totally restructured. Support columns have been moved around to give a better view to the stage, which I'm told is larger than the old one. They added an upstairs area and changed the club entrance from the front to the side. And finally, they replaced the giant plate glass windows with slits. The old way of sealing off the club for big shows was for them to put up these large plywood panels to shut out the outside world. Now they don't have to. While I can see the logic in that, the new design has given the place a little of the "haunted castle" look. You can't see in, so you've got no idea what you're getting yourself into. You be the judge.


From 2nd...

From Blanchard.


From 2nd...

From Blanchard.

Here are a few additional shots:

This one looks down Blanchard toward what is now the club entrance. Yeah, I'm still getting used to the lack of windows.

This is the entrance to the pizzeria in the alley. Yeah, that alley is pretty gross.

So, what's the verdict?

1 comment:

Jim said...

Gross indeed! Piss-eria is more like it.