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Troubled Coconut Joes Now 'Lava Lounge'

October 27, 2006, 10:11 PM by Matt Belanger

A troubled Sioux Falls nightclud has re-opened its doors with a new name and a new look –with hopes of attracting less crime.

From stabbings to gunshots, police have responded to 91 calls at Coconut Joes this year. But after closing for two weeks to remodel the building, it has re-opened as The Lava Lounge Bar and Grill with hopes of attracting a less-rowdy crowd that will require fewer calls to 911. 

The first people to arrive at the Lava Lounge Friday night were greeted inside by a dark décor highlighted by splashes of color and, of course, oversized lava lamps. 

“We really want people to forget and forgive the old place, when me and Rob bought the place we knew there'd have to be major changes,” said Jim Coats. 

Coats owns the Lava Lounge with his business partner Rob Feller. They bought the bar in June when it was still Coconut Joes. Now that they have renamed the place, they're planning to emphasize the lounge's role as a restaurant as well as a bar with live music. 

“We're going to finish the kitchen within the next few weeks and we'll have a full service menu featuring steaks, authentic Mexican, salads, pastas, prime rib, everything,” he said. 

The Lava Lounge will feature a variety of music but will showcase the live bands the bar will host on Wednesday and Friday nights. Plasma TV's will allow people to watch sporting events. And starting Friday, there's a strict dress code in place as well as a cover charge. Coats says they're hoping the new approach will attract a more mature crowd. 

“What we're trying to do is get people to come out to have dinner and they can stay for entertainment also,” he said. 

He says it's not going to be easy to regain the trust of his neighbors, who are fed up with the violence that's plagued the bar in the past. But he's hoping the new look, and new name speak for themselves. 

“And I think they're going to like us and want to come back and be repeat customers,” Coats said. 

The owners of The Lava Lounge have also hired a private security company to be on site just in case anything does get out of hand. They say they hope to handle most situations themselves without the help of the police department and they say they won't hesitate to turn trouble-makers away. 

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