UPDATE: Arson suspected...
Fire and police crews were sifting through the burnt-out remains Sunday after an early-morning fire destroyed a gay nightclub in Oak Park.
The fire gutted the interior of the Velvet Rope Lounge, 728 Lake St., about 6 a.m. Sunday.
The plate glass window lay in shards on the sidewalk in front of the nightclub. The interior visible from the street appeared charred or covered in black soot.
At about 1 p.m., onlookers — many heading to Oak Park’s summer festival A Day in Our Village — were kept at a distant. Pedestrian traffic was diverted into westbound lanes of Lake Street.
Neighboring businessess Geppetto’s Toy Store and the Flat Top Grille also sustained damage.
Eric Masoncup, owner of Geppetto’s, said his business will be closed at least through Sunday.
“We got smoke damage in the store and some water in the basement. We’ve got a recovery team determining the extent of the damage,” Masoncup said.
Fire investigators were on the scene.
An officer outside the Velvet Rope said command officials were not available for comment. They continue to investigate.