Good news for all of you Bella Rose fans out there: Keith Paciello has become a full partner at Rokbar on South Beach. Expect the same laidback, anything-goes experience now that Paciello has taken over creative control at the Collins Avenue watering hole.
Paciello, for those of you who may not know, is a longtime nightlife fixture on South Beach. Not only is his older brother Chris Paciello (yes, that Chris Paciello!), but Keith has worked at Risk, Liquid and Bar Room, before launching one of the coolest (and most missed) spots in town, Bella Rose in 2008.
While Paciello has been manning the ropes at Rokbar for the last year, he is now 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 with both cosmetic changes to the tiny space and 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."
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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," Paciello 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 hookup spot. People want to close out the night with us."
As for whether Paciello will be bringing back Bella Rose's popular weeklies like 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 say. He told Crossfade that they have a 15-year lease: "Rokbar has been around for six, seven years. This place has longevity. 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."