Crews wrangle Dante's Down the Hatch's 7-foot crocodile



ATLANTA - Demolition is set to begin Saturday on a Buckhead landmark: Dante's Down the Hatch.

A wrangler went in Friday to capture a crocodile that's been greeting customers there for years.

Only Channel 2 Action News had a photographer to see a wrangler try to catch Jerry.

The crocodile has lived indoors, in Dante's ship-themed restaurant for 12 years. The wrangler finally got the animal roped and boxed after a small struggle.

The animal is healthy, just a little pale because he hasn't had any sun.

Jerry will arrive at his new home at a sanctuary in St. Augustine, Fla.

Dante's owner is considering a new venture: treasure hunting.

"There's a paddlewheeler from the 1800s that sank in the Alabama River. I'm the only living person who knows where that is. And it has a shipment of gold on it," said Dante Stephensen.

Stephensen offered the crocodile to Zoo Atlanta but the zoo has closed its reptile house.

The wrangler said Jerry should live a long life in his new home in Florida.

The restaurant closed in July after 43 years. Stephensen said the county was taxing him at the same rate as nearby condos and office buildings.

In September, the restaurant put many of its iconic fixtures up for auction. Stephensen has talked about finding a new location, although it would likely be a very expensive start-up.

Channel 2 Action News

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