Before a Sunday morning fire gutted its interior, Velvet Rope was an upscale suburban haven for gays.
Opened in April of 2008 by Carol Bertacchi, in a space formerly occupied by The Abbey wine bar, the openly gay, openly inclusive and "always classy" lounge filled a niche for a more mature clientele. It capitalized on a void left when the Nutbush, a bar catering to gay men in neighboring Forest Park, closed its doors in 2007.
Velvet Rope continued that bar's tradition of hosting charity benefits and themed parties closely associated with the local LGBT community. But Velvet Rope also sought a more open place within the community — a contrast to its more discrete predecessor. Stories over the years have always noted the floor-to-ceiling windows at the front entrance as one example of moving past the boarded-up nature of previous gay bars.
In September 2009, Bertacchi sold the Velvet Rope to one of its regular customers, then 23-year-old Frank Elliot. A news story at the time noted that Elliot planned to revise the menu and add a Sunday brunch.