Status: Sociable sophistication is one way to describe one of the eastside’s newest lounges. Another way, according to owner Valentine Gelata, would be romantic.
“Before, it was a cold and uncomfortable space,” says Gelata, who transformed the former 18th St. Rib House to Elope in eight months.
Now, he describes the loungy, tapas bar as “warm, romantic and comfortable. This is the kind of place people go for dates.”
Elope, which means to escape, opened the doors to the 5,000-square-foot lounge three weeks ago, and while it may be hard to find tucked away in the Crystal Commons shopping plaza at 18 Mile and Garfield, once inside, you may be sucked in by the red glow and modern custom-made sofas and animal-print carpeting.
Gear: Classy and chic. “I saw eastside ladies looking too good for the places that they were in,” Gelata says. “I wanted to offer them a place to go where the establishment matched their style.”
Guys and gals alike dress to impress with stylish tops paired with slacks or denim. No athletic gear at this eastside lounge.
Mood: Soft lighting and moderate music from the speakers set the scene for friends to share laughs and good times. Pre-recorded variations of lounge house provide a jazzy ambiance, complementing the open floor plan that is apt for mingling.
“Inviting,” is how Erin Henry described Elope. “It makes me feel good. We needed something like this on the eastside.”
Barely open, the lounge has already become the favorite of Amy Klimas who says, “I love it. The food is great, and I can actually hear the conversation that I am having.”
“In the early evening, it’s an older crowd,” Gelata says. “As the night progresses, it gets younger.”
For ladies who need to get away from an obnoxious date, just head to the restroom where you can grab a drink while taking a load off in the small, but private lounge adjoining the ladies room. Sneak a peak at the crowd through the one-way mirror while your friends handle their business.
Pick me up: How sweet it is…delectable deserts like crème brule and chocolate-covered cherry martinis are sure to offer up some lip action. With 30 different choices, including the honeymoon martini and the X-rated flirt-tini, the martini list is unique and fabulous.
Head chef John Miller, who has won numerous awards for his culinary skills, describes the food menu as a “variety of flavors.” His favorites include the Moroccan lamb lollies and the bacon-wrapped chorizo-stuffed dates.
In the mood for something simple? Try soup, salad or any of the gourmet-styled sandwiches starting at just $9.
The come-early and stay-late vibe gets a boost by fusion cuisine served tapas style. Ishiyaki, which translates to rock cooking, lets you sizzle your selection of rib eye, ahi, shrimp or salmon.
Entertainment: Come with some interesting friends because you won’t find the easy escapes in TVs, pool tables, video games or other typical bar toys.
There is a DJ who plays house on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but don’t expect to hear any shout outs. The DJ doesn’t take requests either.
“This is the perfect place for a social night, and that’s where I want to focus,” Gelata says.