Amidst public speculation about its fate, the doors of Fresno’s popular Rome Nightclub remain open. There’s a new general manager in place who is stressing that Rome is still in business and moving forward. In fact, tonight, it hosts a concert with veteran rapper Spice 1.
Jered Brower, the door and floor manager at the club since it re-opened as Rome last year, is the new GM. He told me the club, “is all about moving forward towards a bigger and better future.”
Brower replaces former GM Pino Borelli, who had been in charge at Rome since its inception. He was fired over the weekend, prompting widespread chatter that Rome had, in fact, closed its doors.
Just how long Rome stays open, though, could depend on the fate of its liquor license — which is where things get complicated.
Three key points:
- There’s a stipulation in the club’s liquor license that states local businessman Kirk Vartanian (who attempted to open the club as The Edge in 2009) cannot have anything to do with the Rome. His involvement would be cause for suspension or revocation of Rome’s liquor license, says Christine Weldon, the district administrator for Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
- That license belongs to John Janda, a local doctor who is the club’s owner. He’s been largely silent throughout Rome’s tenure. But his conflict with Borelli — which led to the firing — is another power struggle at the oft-troubled Granite Park club. You might remember it first opened as Cabo Wabo until a conflict between rock star Sammy Hagar and developer Milt Barbis shut it down.
- Borelli says he met with Fresno ABC this week and offered up information that could jeopardize the Janda’s liquor license. Borelli says he informed officials that Vartanian was involved with Rome since the beginning.
“This is how it really opened,” Borelli told me Wednesday night. “Kirk Vartanian had interest in this club. Dr. Janda was put in place strictly because his name was clean. I was going through my own problems. Kirk had his problems. John was just supposed to be a silent partner.”
All this could put Rome’s liquor license in danger, either temporarily or permanently. Both our local and state ABC offices say there are no new accusations on file for Rome, but that doesn’t necessarily mean nothing is in the works. Brower, however, says he doesn’t expect the liquor license to be an issue for the club in the future.
But if it becomes one, can the club stay open without the big money-maker that is alcohol? If Rome does fall, Borelli has his sights set on taking over.
“I AM going to take it back over,” says Borelli, who previously ran GiGi’s Italian Cucina at Friant and Fort Washington. “I am the type of person when I set my mind to something it’s going to be done.”
For anybody interested in Rome’s current entertainment schedule: It has DJs scheduled Friday and Saturday night, per usual. Tonight’s concert with Spice 1 (pictured) starts at 9 p.m. The first 25 people, Brower says, get in free.