The Velvet Dog and Empire Room had closed unexpectedly – allegedly “for remodeling” – leaving only 81/2 by 11 notes on the front doors explaining what supposedly had happened.
There followed unconfirmed reports of “boxes getting carted out” on October 7th and employees showing up for their shifts unaware of the closings only to find locked doors.
With no outward evidence of remodeling work going down, the obvious question was, had something had gone wrong?
“Probably the same odds as selling booze to a minor,” quipped nearby Berbiglia staffer Layfayette.
However a check with both Kansas City Liquor Control and the state reveals no such disiplinary actions to be in effect.
Ditto for the Kansas City Health Department, who outside of a few minor wrist slappings knew nothing of the closings.
“They probably didn’t pay their sales tax but that’s probably just one month that they missed – that’s nothing.”
Unless of course it’s indicative of larger financial difficulties.
Velvet Dog and Empire Room “partners” Chris Seferyn and Vince Rook did not return calls for this column. Not exactly indicative of thriving businesses merely closing for a bit of sprucing up or even a major makeover.
Nigro’s take on what could be going on?
“The guys who were running them probably couldn’t make it work anymore and they closed,” he says. “I mean, that’s typically what happens. Whoever reopens them will probably have to pay off any sales taxes owed by the previous operator, but the guy who owns those buildings (Rook) is a pretty sharp guy. He’ll find some new tenants and get them reopened before long.”