LORAIN — It’s going to be a wild ride, according to Justin Schill, owner of Déjà Vu, a new nightspot opening in downtown Lorain Friday that will cater to the area’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community but welcome everyone.
“People are still afraid of the backlash (over being LGBT) whether it’s in the workplace or going to dinner and having a drink,” Schill said. “If you give them a clean, safe place where you keep out the riff-raff, they’ll come and support it."
The new bar will operate in the space formerly occupied by Road Runners and before that Kennedy's, bars owned by Lorain businessman Mike Kennedy who sold the nightspot to Schill for an undisclosed sum.
Promising a high energy atmosphere and a new $5,000 light and sound system producing the kind of effects found in big-city clubs, Déjà Vu will offer “one helluva of a show,” Schill said.
An outdoor serving window will be available for those who choose to sit at an outdoor patio to drink and smoke. The new business, which plans to open its doors at 5 p.m. Friday, will also greet customers with a fresh coat of paint and a major cleaning.
Schiil plans to spend another $10,000 to $15,000 on other renovations including expanded bathrooms, a new dance floor, and carpeting.
“It will definitely be a work in progress," he said.
Plans call for the kitchen, which will serve wings, pizza and other bar food, to begin operating in about 90 days.
“We planned on keeping Road Runners a little longer while we did repairs, but the word got out and the demand was there so we decided to make the switch now,” Schill said.
The bar closed as Road Runners Tuesday night.
Schill readily acknowledged the bar’s biggest change will be its clientele.
“People are lashing out against the gay community," he said. "They don’t’ get it. They think it’s a choice.”
Schill referred to dozens of comment, some positive, others crude and negative, posted on another newspaper’s web site in reaction to word of the bar’s opening.
“I anticipated people would be unhappy as evidenced by what we saw online and that’s fine," he said. "That’s the same people who cry the blues why Lorain is so far down in the dumps. They say this kind of business belongs in Lakewood. I say any business that makes money and generates tax dollars should be okay.”
While Déjà Vu looks to be a place where the LGBT community can enjoy themselves and feel safe, it is a nightspot where all are welcome.
“I don’t’ care if you're black, white, Hispanic, gay or straight,” Schill said. “As long as you come in here and are respectful to everyone, things will be fine.”
Still, Schill said the bar won’t tolerate any problems. “We won’t put up with it. Not in here.”