The Press Newspaper
For those who grew up in the 1970’s, Sycamore Grove, in Luckey, was the place to be seen. “Ruby Jones at the Sycamore Grove,” was the siren song on local radio stations that helped bring in people by the hundreds into the bar.
Richard Krotzer, who purchased the Sycamore Grove on land contract in 1974, fondly remembers the “good old days.”
“From the 1950’s on, this has been a classic rock and roll bar,” Krotzer said. “We would have up to 500 people in here. This bar was very popular for years, way before I owned it. I remember being in here in the 1960’s. It was always packed. They did not have enough coolers in the bar. At the end of the night, at 2 a.m., if you wanted a beer, you were stuck drinking Stroh’s.”
Opened in the 1940’s, the nightclub has always been known for dancing. Krotzer’s late aunt, Viola Krotzer, frequently danced at the Grove in the early days, Krotzer said.
“We get old timers that come in here telling us stories from way back when,” Krotzer said. “Now we get young people coming in here telling us stories about their parents who came in here. This place has a lot of history, and we want people to come here, have a great time dancing to classic rock, and enjoying the place their parents came to.”
The constant radio spots drew huge crowds to Luckey from Thursday through Saturday nights.
Although good for business, the crowds became too much at times.
“We would have up to 500 people here a night,” Krotzer said. “It was fun back then but we had a lot of headaches as well.”
From the late 70’s through the early 90’s, the Grove took on a well deserved rough and rowdy persona, Krotzer said.
“I really do not want to go back there,” he said. “This bar was a tough place and there was a lot of fighting back then. In hindsight, we probably should have been serving drinks in plastic cups. We would go through five to six dozen glasses a night. The bar was darker back then and people would just throw glass. There were a lot of fights back then. That is just how it was. I have not had a fight in here for the last 10 years. People are more mature now.”
The bar’s reputation also drew a constant law enforcement presence. Patrons increasingly were finding themselves pulled over after leaving the Grove. Krotzer made the decision to stop having live bands.
“In the 90’s we quit having music for a while,” he said. “We had a sheriff and highway patrol officers circle the place. A lot of bars in the area closed up. We went to country music for a while, but we started having issues again. We laid off the music every weekend for a couple of years.”
Last spring, Krotzer decided to once again offer live rock and roll on the weekends.
“We brought the bands back last spring and we have not had any problems so far,” Krotzer said. “We are trying to control the size of the crowd here as well as make sure that people do not have a lot to drink.
Bonnie Buchman, manager at the Grove, began working there 21 years ago.
“I started in 1991 and we were very busy back then,” Buchman said. “We quit having bands for a while, but we did not close. A lot of people thought we have been closed. We have had pool leagues and it has been open this whole time.”
Buchman said she clearly remembers the bar being packed in the 1980’s, prior to being employed there.
“I used to come in here during the 1980’s,” she said. “It was a big parking lot. People parked up and down the roads around here and they had to walk quite a distance to get here. It was a rowdy rock n’ roll place at the time. We still have the classic rock theme, but we are now having a lot of younger people starting to come in. We have people who tell us stories about the place. A lot of people met their spouses here.”
Buchman said the crowd at the Grove is mixed with old and young, veteran Grove patrons to newbies.
The current bands set to play at the Grove include Rizzo (Jan. 19); The Richter Scale Band (Jan. 26 and Feb. 2); the Ten Inch Willie Band (Feb. 9) the Cheeks band (Feb. 16) and Elmer Fudd (Feb. 23).
“The bands we have play rock from the 60’s on up through some current songs,” she said. “They play classic danceable rock. It is hard to find places that have live rock bands. We also still charge a $2-$3 cover charge and we have five of the best pool tables in the business.”
The Sycamore Grove is open from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The bar is closed Sundays. Happy hour is 7-9 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. The bands take the stage Saturdays, beginning at 10 pm.
For more information, please call (419) 837-6545.