Inferno Room tiki bar coming to Virginia Avenue

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Restaurateur Ed Rudisell, a self-described “rum fanatic,” says his love of tropical spirits led him to his latest venture: Inferno Room, a tiki bar at 902 Virginia Ave.

Rudisell, who co-owns Inferno Room along with business partner Chris Coy, said he wants to have the bar open this summer.

Because rum is a popular ingredient in tropical cocktails, Rudisell said, rum enthusiasts are “a hop, skip and a jump” away from the world of the tropical-themed tiki bar. “It was just a road that we started traveling down, and it became an absolute obsession.”

Tiki bars had their heyday in the 1940s and '50s before falling out of style, but Rudisell said interest in these tropical-themed establishments is on the rise once again.

Rudisell describes Inferno Room as a “throwback traditional Polynesian pop tiki bar” that will immerse patrons in the atmosphere of the South Pacific nation Papua New Guinea. Furnishings will include wooden carvings, New Guinean art and a skull motif, all of which are reflective of New Guinean culture.

The goal, Rudisell said, is to transport patrons into an atmosphere that’s a world apart from its Fountain Square surroundings. Once they step inside Inferno Room, he said, “if people are aware of Virginia Avenue then we’re not doing our job.”

The cocktail list, too, will have a tropical flair, with a heavy emphasis on tiki favorites like the Mai Tai, Zombie, Jet Pilot, Nui Nui and Three Dots and a Dash.

Coy, Rudisell’s partner in the project, is the former general manager at the Massachusetts Avenue eatery Black Market. Rudisell is a co-owner of Black Market, as well as two Asian-themed Fountain Square restaurants: Rook and Siam Square.

Inferno Room has been in the works for some time.

Originally, the partners had hoped to have the bar open by the end of 2017. But renovations have taken longer than Rudisell expected.

The bar will occupy a portion of the 12,000-square-foot building known as the Woessner Building, which Rudisell purchased in September 2015 along with Deylen Realty principal Craig Von Deylen and real estate developer John Altman.

The space that Inferno Room will occupy was a former Marion County courtroom facility, so part of the renovations have included ripping out a judge’s bench, holding cages and other courtroom infrastructure, as well as installing a kitchen. Rudisell said some of the project delays relate to the surprises that come along with renovating an old building. The Woessner Building was constructed in 1915. 

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