Velvet hope: Owner Frank Elliott surveys the devastation left by a fire at Velvet Rope, 728 Lake St., on June 3.File 2012

Both businesses bordering the Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge have reopened following a fire there last month, but the Oak Park nightclub’s owner says he’s waiting for the results of the arson investigation before beginning his own repairs.

“There’s not a whole heck of a lot I can do,” said Frank Elliott, who owns the gay club at 728 Lake St. “I’m pretty much out of money.”

The fire that destroyed the business on the morning of June 3 was determined to be arson and Oak Park police are continuing to investigate. Smoke and water damage kept the adjacent Flat Top Stir-Fry Grill closed until Saturday. Geppetto’s Toy Box reopened on the other side in late June after smoke damage destroyed some of their inventory.

At Velvet Rope, Elliott said most of what was inside — two floors of tables, chairs and equipment — was destroyed. His debit card and 5,000 in checks were also stolen.

While he waits on the investigation by the police department and his insurance company, Elliott said he’s been concentrating his efforts on opening a bar in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood that will be similar to Velvet Rope. Bonsai Bar and Lounge could open in the next few weeks, Elliott said.

He plans to reopen Velvet Rope, but it might not be in the same location. Elliott said he has not yet looked at other spaces. He said he’ll give his Velvet Rope staff the option to work at Bonsai for the time being.

At the time of the fire, everything had been going very well at Velvet Rope and “nothing seemed out of place,” Elliott said. Employees were getting ready for Pride Month, which is typically a busy time for the bar. Elliott has heard speculation that he was behind the fire, and said he doesn’t know why anyone would jump to that conclusion.

“It hurt me and it hurt my other staff because we’re all like one big family,” he said.

Police Detective Ron Bongat, who is the lead investigator in the case, said Monday the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have yet been made. But when asked if the department had identified any persons of interests or suspects, Bongat said yes. He did not elaborate and said he couldn’t comment on the speculation that Elliott might be involved. He also said he could not comment on a report the department received from the state fire marshal about the incident.

Mike Fox, who owns the building, referred questions to Elliott.

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