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Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2001

Indicted club owner helps downtown bar

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Croak: band promoter. Croak: band promoter.
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Rob Croak, under indictment in connection with an East Toledo nightclub, is helping set up a bar aiming to capitalize on crowds flocking to the downtown area around Fifth Third Field.

The owner of the club, The Metro, said Mr. Croak won't be an employee. But he said Mr. Croak is helping him arrange the stage, concert hall, sound system, and lights, and he will book bands.

Keith Brown, the president of Brown Realty Services, Inc., said he and a group of partners bought the building at 140 Huron St. in a sheriff's sale.

He plans to open as early as this month a concert nightclub, The Metro, and an eating and drinking establishment, Stadium Bar and Grill. The two businesses will be in the same building several blocks from the Mud Hens stadium. Mr. Brown said Mr. Croak is one of the most active band promoters in Toledo and is helping him renovate what he said is a poorly designed stage in Union Station.

“He is going to most likely be my band promoter,” Mr. Brown said. “He's not going to be a manager, and he's not going to be an employee.”

Mr. Croak was helping with the interior renovation of the new bar yesterday. He declined to comment at length.

“Keith is a friend of mine, and that's as far as it goes. I'm just helping him with sound, lights, and bands,” Mr. Croak said. “I'm going to continue booking concerts.”

The Ohio Liquor Control Commission last week revoked Main Event's liquor license because Mr. Croak hid his alleged ownership in the business so the bar, at 137-141 Main St., could obtain a liquor license.

Mr. Croak lost his liquor license at Main Event in 1996. Yesterday, Mr. Croak denied being the owner or manager of Main Event.

He was indicted in October in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on one count of tampering with records and three counts of forgery for falsifying records on the liquor permit for Main Event. A trial is scheduled for Feb. 25.

According to Earl Mack, a liquor investigator for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, if Mr. Croak is found guilty of a felony, he would be prohibited from having an active interest in a liquor permit.

Patty Haskins, spokeswoman for the organization, said an active interest is defined as being a partner, manager, director, officer, or owner of more than 10 percent of the stock.

The Union Station bar previously was operating at 140 Huron, but it shut down at that location this year.

Mr. Brown said he believes the increasing number of downtown residents and the scheduled opening of Fifth Third Field Mud Hens stadium about two blocks away will generate enough traffic to support both clubs.

“The Mud Hens are opening up six months from now. I think it's the right time for downtown,” Mr. Brown said. “We think there is a bunch of people living here now between 21 and 45 that would like to have a place that they feel comfortable.”



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