Hearne: The Curious Closings of the Velvet Dog & Empire Room

IMG_2888The rumors began to fly two weeks back…

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?

IMG_2873What were the odds of owners remodeling both clubs at the exact same time?

“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.

IMG_2878And as for the matter of a $6,000 tax lien filed by the Missouri Department of Revenue last summer, no biggie says bar owner Bill Nigro.

“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.

Chris Seferyn

Chris Seferyn

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.”

Stay tuned.

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13 Responses to Hearne: The Curious Closings of the Velvet Dog & Empire Room

  1. paulwilsonkc says:

    No news here; Jardines is remodeling too, what’s the big deal?

    • the dude says:

      Ah, the old dreaded ‘closed for remodeling sign’ hung in the door.
      Nobody is fooled by this crap anymore.

  2. harley says:

    that’s the type of stories you should be doing hearne…
    no more b.s. from the amatuers….bring it on!!!!!!

  3. Bob Newhart says:

    Laughing my azz off, Harley is like Carrie Mathison’s psycho retarded brother on Homeland.


    • paulwilsonkc says:

      +100, it just keeps getting better. In the words of my friend, Carly, he’s so vain, he pro’bly thinks this post is about him….

  4. expat says:

    Had to check if that was the same Berbiglia I used to buy liquor at when I was 19. Nope that was the Main Street location. Never had a problem with my horrible fake ID there – even though it said ‘Novelty use only’ in large letters right on the back.

  5. Brother Sunday says:

    This is good stuff. Well, closing never a good thing, but it happens. This is the kind of news and info that I like to read – news about local stuff that “The Pentagram on Grand” (trademark, brosun, all rights reserved) wont cover. Somebody went to J-Skool. -Brosun

  6. johnnyg says:

    Partnerships are much like gay marriages. When it’s good it’s good. When a tax goes to a “lien” status it usually means there is no money to pay it and there probably are more that haven’t made it to that stage yet. But when the marriage is over nobody really knows who’s top or bottom.

  7. RickM says:

    I assume Sol Cantina’s still open with its $5 weekend cover charge, lame DJs and early closing time.

    If Winter weren’t on the way, the place would now be even more packed on Fri-Sat nights.

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