Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge at 728 Lake Street in Oak Park.
© Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo
A Hate Crime Perhaps, but perhaps against the Insurance Company. A Fire burns the Velvet Rope - Arson is reported.
by Ed Vincent
The fire started perhaps a little after 2:00 in the morning and smoke was seen coming from the restaurant and a call was made to the fire department some time around 6:30 am. (June 3, 2012). The Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge owner Mr. Frank Elliott appeared on the scene in drama and tears. He was sure it could have been a hate crime, he even noted the vulgar graffiti on the inside walls - but this is before he entered the building, according to sources.
There were no signs of forced entry into the building, there was no longer a security system with video installed. The video is said to have been taken to the new restaurant in Chicago. Bonsai Bar & Lounge
3503 N Halsted Street, Chicago, IL. 60657 (773) 248-0100
One of the spray painted messages said "F**K You" and another made reference to a sexual preference. We had not heard about the Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge owner Mr. Frank Elliott being clairvoyant, but we are informed that he mentioned the graffiti before he had been in the building. Unfortunately the cameras were not able to catch the person(s) setting the fires. The person(s) were able to set three different starting points for the fire, perhaps to make things more difficult? The only problem with three separate points of ignition is that it also spells ARSON. The insurance industry has also seen an increase in arson reports with certain businesses that are in financial trouble. The good news for the insurance claim is that the expensive liquor was not to be found at the Velvet Rope after the fire. Sources have told us that the top notch drinks were not there and only second rate alcohol was found after the fire. Perhaps the good stuff was taken to the bar in city. "Only second-tier alcohol, not the expensive alcohol that would normally be found in a bar, was on site."
One of the Oak Park firefighters who put out the fire. leaned against the wall and left a palm print. The print was cut out from the wall and later identified as a firefighter.
Because of the potential for a hate crime being committed against a gay establishment in town, and that might make Oak Park then having two hate crimes committed, the first when an Oak Park raised youth committed a hate crime against another Oak Parker. The FBI's also working the case along with arson investigators from the state of Illinois.
Something smells bad, other than the smoke damage. The investigation will look into the financial records of the business, the time line of activity, and other forensic evidence.
The fire has been ruled an arson.
Damage was also caused to the Flattop Grill and they will be closed until July at this point. The insurance companies will also be doing an investigation before they pay for anything and arson will save them some money.
Alton L. Hayes III, of 1233 North Woodbine Ave. in Oak Park arrested for a felony hate crime against a white Oak Park resident.
There was no information listed, but calling the Oak Park location we were told that it would be another two weeks until the reopening. (June 10 called)
© Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc.
published by Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc.
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