By Jacob Katel
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Good news for all of you Bella Rose fans: Keith Paciello has become a full partner at Rokbar on South Beach. Expect the same laid-back, anything-goes experience now that Paciello has taken over creative control at the Collins Avenue watering hole.
Paciello, for those of you who might not know, is a longtime nightlife fixture on South Beach. Not only is his older brother Chris Paciello (yes, that Chris Paciello), but also Keith worked at Risk, Liquid, and Bar Room before launching in 2008 one of the coolest (and most missed) spots in town, Bella Rose.
That bar was frequented by both hipsters and celebs (think Jared Leto, Calvin Klein, and Mary-Kate Olsen) and was famous for its late-night debauchery. Since Bella Rose closed last year, South Beach locals have been searching for another nocturnal option with the same no-attitude, no-bullshit policy.
Paciello has been manning the ropes at Rokbar for the past year, but now he is in charge of the good times, along with owner Phil Sylvester and partner Dimitris Harvalis. This new team promises to reinvigorate nightlife in South Beach via cosmetic changes to the tiny space as well as new nights. (Paciello will still be checking the door to make sure locals have a hassle-free entry.)
"We're going back to the original concept of Rokbar," Paciello notes. "It lost its identity, but the room has great energy. It's the only local haven left. Between Mynt, which is next door, and Rokbar, these are the only places in town that aren't run by a corporate machine. We are like Cheers, but with an edge."
That last comment is an obvious dig at Opium Group's domination of South Beach nightlife — and Paciello also wants to dispel any rumors that Opium Group is buying Rokbar. Ease your mind, clubgoers.
"The place is rocking," he continues. "It's all locals. At 5 a.m., when we turn the lights on, we are kicking out 120 people. The crowd starts out early, around midnight, with a chill vibe. In the middle, we become a dance club. And then it morphs into the seedy, late-night hook-up spot. People want to close out the night with us."
As for whether Paciello will bring back Bella Rose's popular weeklies such as Black Sunday, the nocturnal pied piper is mum. "Bella Rose was me," he says. "Rokbar will have that Bella Rose attitude. I'm always going to try new things. I want to hire hungrier talent, in terms of DJs and promoters. I want to keep pushing that envelope. I feel like I have a home again."
Furthermore, Paciello and Rokbar are here to stay. He says they have a 15-year lease. "Rokbar has been around for six, seven years. This place has longevity," he explains. "Name another club that's been there for this long that's still pulling the locals and the girls that we do. We're not a corporate machine; we're like your home. You don't have to buy a bottle to have fun. I want people to let their hair down. It's a real nightlife experience."