About four months ago, a large banner was hung outside the entrance of the former Barley’s Pub building in downtown Youngstown.
“Liquid Blu Nightclub, coming soon” it reads, an announcement of what will be the next incarnation of the building at 21 W. Federal St.
The sound of power tools has been emanating from within, audible to passersby. But the glass front wall has been papered over, so it’s impossible to tell what’s going on inside.
I got a sneak peak inside earlier this week.
Trust me, a lot is going on.
Club-goers are going to be wide-eyed at the spare-no-expense makeover the room is getting. Liquid Blu — which is slated for an early summer opening — will be a high-end Las Vegas-style nightclub, and that’s no exaggeration.
It will be a night-and-day difference from the dingy series of dive bars that used to inhabit the building.
The interior has been completely gutted, and the new look is starting to take shape.
The room will have an aquatic fluorescent blue glow. An undulating bar runs most of the length of the rectangular venue. Wavy VIP areas rise above the floor at various intervals, like islands.
A lighted dance platform will inhabit one area, with a DJ booth at the rear of the room.
The kitchen will specialize in seafood items, including crabcakes and shrimp cocktail, according to assistant manager Dennis Paige. He is part of the Liquid Blu team, which includes manager Kostas Velonis and publicity chief Joey Courtney.
The club is owned by Liquid Blu LLC.
The management team has been developing the vision and making plans for the club ever since Barley’s closed in December 2011.
Paige wouldn’t reveal how much is being spent on Liquid Blu, but every square inch from floor to ceiling is being redone with the finest materials.
“It will be a real nightclub experience for Youngstown, like Miami or Las Vegas,” said Paige.
Perhaps nowhere will the difference be more stunning than in the basement, where the bathrooms are.
While the subterranean level at Barley’s was reminiscent of catacombs, or maybe an abandoned subway tunnel, the area has been transformed into something regal, with marble flooring. The spacious bathrooms feature bowl-and-fountain wash sinks that are almost decadent, and room for an attendant.
A patio will be added to the sidewalk in front of the building, and a sign will be erected.
On the second floor, even bigger changes await.
A private VIP room has been constructed, and plans call for adding a large dance hall in the remainder of the space.
The building — built maybe a century ago — was originally a bank, but the first floor has been covered over and remade so many times that no vestiges of its original stateliness remain.
Not so on the second floor, which apparently didn’t exist when the building was first built. Its architecture still retains the power of turn-of-the-century Youngstown and walking into it is like uncovering a long-unseen archeological treasure.
A glorious vaulted ceiling with intricate ornamentation covers the room like a dome, and a large, arched window — so visible from the street — presides over the space.
This room is still awaiting renovation and won’t be ready when the club opens, but it gives cause for anticipation.
Liquid Blu has already begun the hiring phase and is looking for bartenders, servers, security and chefs. Interested persons can stop in the club during daylight hours for an interview.