Former Vine, Ultralounge finds new biz owner
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
The downtown Santa Rosa nightclub space that housed the troubled Seven Ultralounge and The Vine will reopen Friday as Rapture. The Seventh street entertainment venue will feature music, dancing, a full bar Thursday through Sunday.
New club owner Mark Hines and business partner Henry Leon Raney Jr. purchased the business in December from building owner Gerald Buhrz who also owns nearby properties housing the Chrome Lotus and Franco’s Pizzeria.
Hines is a former printing business owner and mobile DJ who said he’d been looking for several years to open a nightclub in the Bay Area and fell in love with the 528 Seventh St. property when he saw it.
He and Raney have invested in a significant upgrade to the sound and light system in the space, but otherwise are making few interior changes initially, with a grand opening on Saturday night.
Hines plans to create an upscale lounge space with VIP areas where customers can pay an additional fee for private seating areas, along with dancing waitresses. DJ Rob Cervantes, a fixture from the Seven Ultralounge days, will coordinate the entertainment, according to Hines. He plans to feature local talent and traveling DJs with a focus on house, electronic and pop music. Hines cited international trance DJ Armin Van Buuren as an inspiration for the type of entertainment vibe he’s setting at the club.
When asked about the club’s notorious past, Hines said that he interviewed more than 150 people to get the right mix of staff, which will include security to patrol the nearby parking structure. In 2006, 32-year-old Matthew Toste was fatally shot in the parking lot across from the club.
“We want to make this the ultimate guest experience,” Hines said. “We are successful business people and this is a business for us, not just a bar,” he added. The club will enforce an upscale dress code and, according to the owner, will not play “certain types of music” (which he later explained as rap music with desultory lyrics about women and police) that led to incidents in the past. “Trust me, nothing will be the same,” said Hines in reference to the former nightclubs.
The Vine closed in August 2010, a little more than a year after opening, although Buhrz said in a previous interview that he never planned for the club to be a longterm business. Seven Ultralounge opened in 2006 as a high-rolling nightclub with $200-plus VIP tables and a luxe urban ambiance but devolved into a troubled scene with strict city supervision after the shooting, leading to the ultimate loss of its liquor license in 2008.
After several years of struggles, the former nightclub space that housed Seven Ultralounge and The Vine has found a new business owner.
According to documents filed with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the space is being taken over by Ryde Hotel Properties LLC to become a new eating establishment called Rapture.
The Press Democrat previously reported that the building at 528 Seventh St. in downtown Santa Rosa is owned by businessman Gerald Buhrz, who also owns the properties housing the Chrome Lotus and Franco’s Pizzeria. In an August 6, 2010 interview, Buhrz said he never planned to operated a nightclub longterm at the location, but keep the business location alive until a buyer came along. The asking price in August was $325,000, down from $550,000 the previous year.
The Vine closed in August 2010, a little more than a year after opening. Prior to that, it was Seven Ultra Lounge, which began as a high-rolling nightclub with $200-plus VIP tables and a luxe urban ambiance. The club devolved into a troubled scene with strict city supervision and never fully recovered from its affiliation with a fatal 2006 shooting in a nearby parking garage and ultimate loss of its liquor license in 2008.
The Ryde Hotel and event center, a popular hotel and wedding venue in Walnut Grove, which some thought may have been behind the purchase, has denied any involvement.