After a year of closure, The Crocodile is about to be back—and big.
Last year, the beloved Belltown venue announced that following a breakdown in negotiations with their landlord, they would move from their home of almost three decades on 2nd Ave and Blanchard St to a new spot just a few blocks away. Now they've set up shop in El Gaucho's old digs on First Ave and Wall St, and it's by no means a step-down.
Opening to the public on December 1, the new and improved Crocodile is a 30,000 square foot complex that will offer three new music venues: a 750-person capacity showroom, a 300-person venue, and a 100-person seat comedy club and movie theater. There's also a daytime cafe, a restaurant bar, and a 17-room hotel. With a 50% increase in audience capacity, the new Crocodile has greatly expanded its capabilities.
"When we walked through the building for the first time we were floored," said Hunter Motto, the Croc's talent buyer and general partner. "[There's] so much more that we can offer the community and take what is special about the Crocodile and amplify it by ten."
These setbacks pushed back the official opening date, interrupting their previously scheduled bookings for the new space. Rather than cancel the events outright, the Croc pivoted to move the shows to venue partners like Chop Suey and the Clock-Out Lounge, as well as new venue friends Washington Hall and MoPOP's Sky Church, to make sure those shows still happened. Motto said it's been "awesome" to work with other venues around the city, but now they are "excited to have our events play out at the Croc."
Each of the new venues inside the sprawling complex will have distinct identities. The main 750-capacity showroom is, what the press release called, "one part music venue, one part natural history museum," with a 40-foot crocodile skeleton replica suspended from the ceiling and "scientific dioramas lining the walls" with references to Seattle's music history. The smaller 300-capacity venue is named after Madame Lou (Seattle's most famous madame), which Motto said will be a place for Crocodile to put on more local shows and help local artists develop their craft.
While I appreciated the chilled vibe of the Crocodile's Back Bar (I remember seeing Juan Wauters there in one of the most intimate and drafty shows I've been to), the concept is getting a facelift. It's turning into Here-After, a 100-seat comedy club, movie theater, and bar that will host touring and local comics, podcast tapings, and movie viewings. And and and and and. There's more. The Crocodile is also opening a 17-room hotel called, aptly, Hotel Crocodile that will feature art from local artists, a private gathering space as well as "direct concert streaming." It's currently available to book through 2022.
All of this is in addition to a street-level cafe and "pre show bar" called The Society, whose menu will be led by Crocodile investor Simona Bressi (of Via Tribunali, Spinasse, Lecosho, Vito’s fame) for the hungry masses. Joining the food side is Reckless Noodle House and Il Bistro's executive chef Nathan Gerard, who has assembled a late night street food menu for visitors at various points throughout the building.
The Croc's inaugural concerts will be MBNEL on Madame Lou's stage and MEGA64 in the main space, but the official grand opening will come sometime in March when they will officially install the marquee outside the building. Visitors will have to wait until New Year's Eve to get to check out Here-After, when it officially opens to the public.
The expansion of the Crocodile from grungy corner venue where bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam cut their teeth to a veritable complex that meets every need you could possibly have while Going Out is dizzying. And while it's certainly a new era for The Croc, it will undoubtedly serve as a center of gravity for nightlife in Belltown. Motto said they already have several ideas for festivals and whole-building events cooked up for the spring.
"The space is going to impress," he commented.
Read more about the new Crocodile here.