by Brian Clarey
Vicki Moore sets the scene with low-key lighting and slow, heavy guitars. She’s festooned the space that formerly held the dive bar Elliott’s Revue with fishnets and mermaids, ships and shells to articulate a theme that can best be described as “Dirty Tiki,” and rechristened the place as the Luna Lounge. Long, wooden Polynesian masks cover the columns of the bar, covered by a thatched grass overhang. She’s lengthened the bar using materials from the old stage, and added an extra yard of bar space that juts out into the room.
She’s walled off an outdoor patio where the old stage used to stand and rerouted the ramp that leads to the back loft space. The bathrooms are completely renovated. You wouldn’t even recognize them.
“I really enjoy building bars,” she says. “I love the whole element.”
It’s been three years since Vicki closed the doors of Elliott’s Revue in this corner of downtown Winston-Salem, years in which much has happened not just in the Arts District, but all over the city. She has new neighbors in Mission Pizza, the District and more. There’s a lot more life at the corner of Seventh and Trade, particularly after the sun goes down. She’s watched it grow from her perch at Lucky Strike Vintage, where she’s been biding her time.
“It’s great,” she says. “There’s a lot more people out here.”
She’s no mere opportunist — Vicki is barroom royalty in the Camel City, landing here way back in 1978 and taking work at Rose & Thistle, where Business 40 used to make a wicked curve to the west. She pulled shifts at the Rainbow News & Café, where a young Mary Haglund also cut her teeth, and the Horse’s Mouth, where she met a longhaired kid named Richard Emmett.
She’s the one who made the Garage look the way it does. And it was she who filled the interior of the Silver Moon Saloon with such characteristic kitsch. Elliott’s Revue was but the last in a long string of nightspots that built the foundation for the city as it is now.
“I feel like I have sown my seeds and put in my time,” she says, “and devoted a lot of love and energy to the street.”
It’s early on Friday, not yet the magic hour, and the only customer is a Lowe’s Hardware employee drinking away his shift. Vicki’s setting out snacks — hummus and pita chips, salsa and tortillas — for the first wave.
She opened the Luna Lounge a couple months ago, its name an homage to the Silver Moon across the street, and as a general descriptor of the new direction in her business.
“It’s lunacy,” she says.