Students who face lines, crowds, and repetitiveness at the current downtown College Park bars have eagerly awaited the opening of The Thirsty Turtle since the beginning of this fall semester. While nobody knows exactly how long that wait will continue, we at least have some idea why it exists.
We have heard from several sources that The Thirsty Turtle has not opened due to a conflict between the bar owners and the owner of the alley behind the property. Apparently the alley-owner will not allow The Thirsty Turtle to open its back doors to the alley. Without this back exit, the bar does not meet the fire safety requirements that would allow it to reach its several hundred person maximum capacity. Rather, with just the front doors accessible in case of emergency, the bar is only allowed to have about 50 people inside at any one time, simply not enough to do business.
Supposedly The Mark is having similar issues, but having its back doors open to the alley would only increase maximum capacity from about 50 to 100. So, The Mark has been able to operate despite the back-door hurdle.
This conflict is unfortunate. Students in College Park frequently decry the lack of bar options downtown, especially compared to other college towns. In addition, some people will go as far as saying that the reduced crowding more bars would likely produce could have a positive impact on the climate in downtown bars.