ST. PETERSBURG — Padlocked chains wrapped around the front door. Decorative fountains stopped bubbling and ran dry. The marquee announced a weeks-old event.
By now, it's no secret that the V Tampa Bay — the nightclub formerly known as the Venue — closed nearly a month ago with little notice or fanfare.
Public records show the club managers, who took over less than a year ago, appeared to have a disagreement with their landlord.
On Oct. 8, St. Petersburg police responded to an alarm at the V, 2675 Ulmerton Road. They found a locksmith changing the locks, as ordered by the landlord, according to an incident report.
The manager, Jeffrey Bernier, told police he wasn't told the locks would be changed. He wanted his belongings from the club, but eventually, police asked him to leave.
The police report indicates the issue appeared to arise from unpaid rent and a breached lease.
The next day, the landlord filed a Uniform Commercial Code financing statement — a state form used to protect collateral in a debt situation — against the 7 Thirty Group. It listed the nightclub's fixtures, equipment and inventory.
The day after that, the landlord began pursuing litigation against the former tenants.
Landlord Fred Bascom Bullard III confirmed the club had closed and said he is seeking new management. He declined to speak further on the incident.
Bernier also declined to comment.
In its heyday after its 2008 opening, the 28,000-square-foot complex boasted a posh sushi bar and hosted big-name acts as one of Tampa Bay's premier music venues. Chart-topping superstar Flo Rida performed there. DJ Pauly D of Jersey Shore fame spun there.
The Venue closed in the spring amid money trouble, at one point owing the state more than half a million dollars in delinquent sales taxes. One of its former managers, Carmine Chioccariello, was arrested in September, accused of stealing sales taxes collected at the club.
In May, the club reopened as the V, under Bernier and his father, John.
Now the V's phone number no longer rings through. Its website still advertises events from its final weekend. On Facebook, fans left messages: Closed again?
Stephanie Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4155.