Archived Story

New bar opening in former topless club building

Published 1:14pm Thursday, February 18, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF
Edwardsburg Argus

“Off the table” – that was the word on the proposal for a residential development in Edwardsburg at the site of the former adult nightclub Escape Reality, shut down by authorities last year after an investigation into illegal activity including narcotics dealing and prostitution.

At a meeting of the Edwardsburg Village Council Monday night, President Jim Robinson told many who had come in to hear of an update the proposal by Evergreen Land Holding LLC. had been dropped, the company choosing not to go ahead with the project for now.

In the meantime, doors are open at 68502 Dailey Road – only under a new name.

With its topless license pulled but full entertainment and liquor licenses still valid, a new bar, Chameleon Experience, is up and running, scheduled to celebrate its grand opening Friday.

The bar offers various themes, including game night, dance music, live bands and DJs, country nights with a mechanical bull and extreme karaoke.

“So far so good,” Edwardsburg Police Chief Kenneth Wray said Wednesday morning.
The building and property is still owned by Frank Massa, who Wray said, “is Evergreen Land Holding.” The liquor license is currently held by the former holder, Ray Orantowski, but Wray said Massa was in the process of trying to have that license transferred into his name.

Managing the bar is Amber Pinnington, a former bartender at Escape Reality.

A call was made to the bar but no one could be contacted by press time.

Robinson and Wray both said that authorities met with the management team of the bar before it opened.

“I’d rather it be what it is now than what it was then,” Robinson said.

“Basically we told them we’re starting with a clean slate,” Wray said.

Police have been doing walk-throughs at the bar since it opened, and Wray said his officers have found a decent crowd and no problems.

“My guys are in and out of there almost every night,” he said.

The business’ liquor license had been temporarily suspended following the investigation and shutdown of Escape Reality last year.

However, Wray said stipulations would have sent the license into state hands had Massa and Orantowski not had another bar up and running by Feb. 8.

Robinson said the village didn’t take the reopening lightly. In addition to meeting with the village and police, he said he didn’t think management and owners would “have a chance” to let operations get to the level of where they were as Escape Reality.

“A lot of time, a lot of energy and quite a lot of money in legal fees,” he said went into handling that situation and to “restrict topless – and bottomless activity.”

Chameleon Experience, “Michiana’s only changing venue” is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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