It’s all over for Crocodile, a previously popular Wicker Park bar and nightlife spot known for its DJ music, basement dance floor and free pizza. Earlier this month, officers from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office slapped an eviction and “No Trespassing” sticker on the door of the Crocodile, which opened in 2008. Crocodile’s owner Radoslaw “Radek” Hawryszczuk did not respond to requests for comment.
The bar was closed since October after several months of being sporadically open. Hawryszcuk’s landlord Mariusz “Mario” Szpyrka, who owns the building at 1540 N. Milwaukee Avenue, showed Eater documents indicating that Hawryszczuk owed more than $44,384.92 in back rent and court costs. The matter was being fought in court since January of last year, Szpyrka said.
“It’s done, he was evicted for nonpayment of rent. That phase is over. It was a long time coming. There was a lot involved,” Szpyrka said.
Szpyrka said a Cook County judge granted an order of possession for the property in October, which was delayed a few months after a lawyer for Hawryszcuk got an extension. He has “mixed feelings” over the court-ordered eviction.
“I wanted to wish [Hawryszczuk] well. Am I glad it’s over? Yes, because it was a difficult process at the end. I just wanted to be fair. I wish it would have worked out for him,” said Szpyrka.
Szpyrk says he is working on securing a new tenant for the storefront, just south of Wicker Park’s Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection. “I have a potential tenant lined up; we are in the midst of negotiations. There is no lease signed yet,” he said.
Though he declined to elaborate on whether the possible tenant is a restaurant, bar or retail, it’s likely it will be a bar since the building is zoned for a tavern, according to the city’s zoning map. The C1-2 zoning that the building has is a sought-after and hard to get zoning designation that would allow a tavern and late-hour 4 a.m/5 a.m. bar to operate on the premises, without having to offer food or a menu.
Over the past 14 months, the bar was remodeled and Hawryszcuk opened up Crocodile sporadically, but there was a lot of confusing stuff happening there. Last February, a man named Christian DeBoer, who was posing as the bar’s new owner under a fake name of “Ian Baker,” was arrested for trespassing at the bar. DeBoer was later found out to have stolen from area businesses, including stiffing a tattoo artist for a tattoo he’d gotten on his forearm.