Seattle's Crocodile Café reopens its doors

Seattle's Crocodile Café reopens its doors »Play Video
SEATTLE -- At a time when local night spots are falling victim to the struggling economy, one club is making a comeback.

The Crocodile Café was a dingy nightclub that became a second home for local musicians during grunge rock's heyday. Many of Seattle's most famous bands, including Nirvana and Pearl Jam, played there during its 16-year life.

Money troubles shut down the Croc in December 2007, but the live music venue reopened on Thursday night, thanks to nothing short of a miracle.

"I actually felt nauseous," said manager Eli Anderson.

Marcus Charles, a figure known among the city's nightclub owners, bought the troubled club and transformed the space. The stage has been upgraded and Via Tribunali, a local Neaopolitan pizzeria, has moved in.

"We've made a space that is intended to be a rock club," said Anderson.

Back in the old days, musicians lauded its sound quality, its intimacy and even its food. When Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and other bands exploded nationally, the Croc became a destination for grunge rock pilgrims from around the country.

"It was the living room of the Seattle music scene," music writer Charles Cross said. "You would see Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love hanging out there. It was the place that people in the music scene went."

In many ways, the new and improved Crocodile is a lot different than the old. But in other ways, it's the same. The post that used to block the stage, for example, is still there, but now it sits in the corner.

"We didn't get rid of it," said Anderson. "There are so many memories you have of standing behind this post, of going into the room and be like, 'Oh, there's a space to stand,' and you get right behind it and, 'Oh, that's why nobody's standing here.'"

The Croc has found second life -- a luxury most other folding night spots won't see. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, an increasing number of businesses are leaving the scene.

Earlier this week, popular nightclub King Cobra announced it is shutting down. A local disk jockey said the club just couldn't climb its way out of debt.

The Croc, however, is throwing all of that - the economy, the odds of success - to the wind, and trying to breathe new life in to the local economy.

"What is this about? This is about fun. This is about people playing music, and people coming and seeing the show and having a good time and having a drink," said Anderson.

To celebrate its reopening on Thursday, the club opened its doors to its fans with no charge as the music groups Hypatia Lake, The Kindness Kind and The Quiet Ones took the club's new and improved stage.

The Croc will host another free show on Friday, which will feature Akimbo, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and Patrol.