By Chase Holmes, News Reporter
TRUSSVILLE — A legendary bar and former Trussville staple will open their doors once more on Thursday, Nov. 16.
Velma’s has been around the world in the year since Tammy and Royce Butler made the announcement they were bringing the iconic bar back to Trussville at its original location at 1911 Gadsden Highway. Their social media is dotted with pictures of friends of the bar, both new and old, wearing Velma’s branded shirts across the country. Royce Butler recalled a story of their neighbor who wore one of their new shirts to a Texas shoe store and the salesmen had once been a resident of Trussville and a regular Velma’s patron.
Along the one year journey to open Velma’s, the Butlers discovered that their new bar had a history whose roots are firm in Trussville soil and was richer than they could even imagine. Since the initial announcement that Velma’s was returning, people have donated pictures, memorabilia, stories and memories aplenty.
“If it continues in the tradition that it had of all these people who talk about meeting their friends, their loved ones, here for the first time- to be apart of that is huge, right?” Tammy said, “You’re apart of someone’s life story. Velma’s was apart of their life. Now, we get to be apart of their life story through this. I think that is just really neat.”
Velma’s has seen a lot of people come through it’s doors, both owners and customers. The original Velma’s opened in 1938 and underwent several ownership changes until eventually closing in 2012. For the Butlers, reopening the doors means more than them just owning a business.
“[We’re] hoping that we do the previous owners proud,” Tammy said. “Anyone that we have talked to that knew the previous owners or were the previous owners said this place meant something to them. It was never just a business to any of them. It was really about the relationships with people. That is how we are and we hope those people will be really proud of what we have done.”
In remodeling Velma’s, the Butlers added their own personal touches to an already iconic location. An outdoor patio area was constructed as well as a new stage for karaoke. Royce Butler said his favorite addition is the new bar.
“I think we have a one-of-a-kind Bar. We had it refinished [in] a food safe epoxy product. It looks great and is really a one-of-a-kind piece because of the process of doing the epoxy, no two are ever the same in the design. It is somewhat a piece of art. The way it looks, the way the light hits it, and we dressed the front up a little more with the metal to give it a little bit of a rustic look. We captured that again with the stage,” Royce said. “We consider Velma’s vintage.”
The tin used to trim the bar and stage was donated by a former regular of Velma’s.
The Butler’s point to the microphone for the stage as a piece that represents that vintage soul of Velma’s. It looks like it would fit as comfortably in Frank Sinatra’s hand as it will the many karaoke singers to come.
Behind the bar, Velma’s coolers are being stocked with beers in cans and on draft. The four beers currently on draft are Pabst Blue Ribbon, Michelob Ultra, Coors Light, and Blue Moon. Several seltzers will also be on hand including White Claw, Trulys and Happy Dad. A variety of liquors and well drinks will be available for those seeking a cocktail. For Velmas’s, nothing is set and stone and they plan to keep things fluid and adaptable to meet the needs of their customers.
Special cocktails and other beverages are being considered for the future as well as special nights and cocktails.
The Velma’s kitchen will not be open by their Thursday grand opening, but the Butler’s said it will be open within a month. Food trucks are being sought after for the time being though nothing has been made official.
The Butler’s are staying flexible because they want Velma’s to be a place the community feels apart of. A word they kept returning to is ‘comfortable.’
“We’re just looking to be that most comfortable place,” Royce said. Their goal is to do their own thing and make new memories with the community in their way.
The Butler’s are aware of who else is in town and believe that every small business in Trussville thrives when they’re all doing well.
“I don’t feel like we’re in competition with anybody else here because one, there’s room for everybody. There is enough for everybody. They all offer something different. There is Martys, you’re gonna have us, you got the entertainment district,” Tammy said. “We all offer something different. So, there is more than enough room. There is no reason to look at anybody as the competition.”
Small business cooperation is extremely important to the Butlers. “When I see other establishments in Trussville, particularly small business, when I see them posting about an event they are having or posting something special, like Mr. West posted their special one night and I shared it because I was like ‘Oh My God that looks good,'” Tammy said. “We just try to encourage our followers to go support our local businesses. They’re not competition. We’re in the same ballpark. We’re trying to do the same thing. We’re trying to give to the community and make a living. There is enough to go around.”
Velma’s history is the history of Trussville and the Butlers are excited to open their doors to the community. When asked how they were feeling to be so close to opening, the Butlers said it was hard to put into words.
“I don’t even know. It’s pretty difficult to express in words. Just the internal excitement of the unknown of what the different reaction we’re going to get from people when they come in because of what this place meant to a lot of people. It is more than just a bar. We expect the spectrum to be all over the board,” Royce said. “Just those types of things and how people are going to react when they come in and hear the stories in person when people come in. Those types of stories have driven us on the days when we look at each other and wonder, ‘what the hell are we doing.’ You hear those stories and go, ‘okay, this is why we’re doing it.'” The Butler’s set aside a wall for old pictures of people enjoying Velma’s in its past as well as a wall devoted for memories to come.
Things are coming together for the Butler’s but there is one element that is still missing: the famous Velma’s sign. It currently resides on the wall of Marty’s in Trussville. The Butler’s posed with it previously around the time they made the initial return announcement. As for the original sign, the Butler’s consider it a piece of Trussville history and believe it is in good hands at Marty’s. They have commissioned a replica in the same neon pink color.
“It is in production now. We’re hoping it will be finished very shorty. It will go up in the same spot the old one was and then this place will really look like the old Velma’s once that sign is up there.” Tammy said. She didn’t have an exact date for the sign being mounted but joked she hoped it would coincide with their kitchen opening. “I think its going to be great. Its gonna be a really cool thing to be driving down Gadsden Highway here and to see that neon sign up. It will be like a blast from the past.”
Velma’s will be open six days a week. On Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday they will be open from 3 p.m.- 12 a.m. Karaoke will start at 7 p.m. on those days and end around close. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday they are open from 3 p.m.- 2 a.m. Karaoke will start at 8 p.m. Happy hour is from 3- 7 p.m.