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The View from the Valley

An Exploration into Town-Gown Relations

The Liquor License: Tony Sapia’s Last Stand?

Tony Sapia, owner of three of State College’s most infamous bars — Tony’s Big Easy, Candy Bar and Lounge and Lulu’s Nightspot (formerly Club Love) — may soon be parting with the liquor license his businesses depend on.

As The Daily Collegian reports, Mr. Sapia’s liquor license renewal earlier this year was denied by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) based on a variety of violations at his establishments, including the 2006 murder of Penn Stater Michael Donahue — stabbed in the heart by a visitor from the Bronx.

The Daily CollegianLiquor License Still Undecided – Oct. 24 – “Over the years the establishment had compiled a list of liquor code violations and also was repeatedly the scene of disturbances where the local police were called in,” Chapman said in July.

Francis X. O’Brien, Sapia’s lawyer, filed an appeal in July on behalf of Sapia. The bars can remain open while the appeal processes, Chapman said in July.

During 2005 and 2006, the bars received fines for liquor code violations, including using a loudspeaker that could be heard outside and selling drinks at a discounted price for a period before midnight exceeding two hours, Chapman said in July.

In February 2006, Penn State student Michael Donahue was stabbed to death inside Club Love, now known as Lulu’s Nightspot, police said.

If Sammark loses the appeal, the liquor license will “effectively disappear,” Chapman said in July.

It’s difficult for me to argue that Mr. Sapia’s license should be renewed. In terms of both anecdotal evidence and personal experience at his bars, I’ve discovered them to be some of the seediest and violence-prone in town.

For now, though, I remain on the fence, and will wait to see what the final ruling is concerning Mr. Sapia’s liquor license. If he wins his appeal, though, let’s hope and pray that he’s learned a lesson and will tone down the atmosphere of his businesses.

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