"There's a club in that building."
"It's probably just an office having a party," I said.
"No," my friend said. "There's no way. It's a club."
My bestie lives in Bayfront Tower in downtown St. Pete, and for the past week from her high-rise window, she had seen lights pumping from the former Bank of America building across the street. So, we did what any nosy and intrusive people would do. We clomped over there.
Around the building we encountered several doors locked to the streets outside. Finally, some guy waved us to the Central Avenue entrance by Vue Sushi and Martini Bar. Lo and behold, a young lady stood at the elevator, screening customers. They were in the market for well-dressed people, she said. Fortunately, we weren't wearing our usual fare of harem lounge pants and free 5K T-shirts, so we were allowed on.
"What floor?" we yelled as the elevator doors closed.
"19," she said.
The place is called Vue 19, and yep, it opened recently right there in the old bank building. It's a full-service nightclub with foggy floors and flashing lights and slick white seats, a project of Bart Pilipajc and Marek Pietryniak, who own the sushi bar downstairs. The two planned to open Vue 19 almost a year ago, a few months after the sushi bar opened. But delays popped up, including a surprise mandate that the floors be reinforced. The owners complied and got things moving again.
"Everyone was asking when we were going to open," said Pilipajc. "And, yeah, obviously we had some challenges, but the place is up and running."
The past couple weeks, Vue 19 has been in a soft launch phase, attracting clientele with word of mouth, Facebook posts and chatter inside the sushi bar. It's geared toward a slightly older crowd of upscale professionals. And, Pilipajc said, they're already renting the space for private events including corporate lunches and weddings.
"We're going step by step," said Pilipajc. "We want to make sure that when it comes to the club, everything is perfect."
The balcony at Vue 19 was cool on a foggy night, casting even more mystery on the situation. The music was pop, dance and hip-hop, the drinks were good and the bartenders were sexy, squeezed into aquamarine corsets. It was a pleasant club experience, buoyed by the CIA operative intrigue produced when finding a hidden gem. Check it out if you want to feel special, while it's still a little bit secret.