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Efforts to reopen Ventura dive bar Billy O's could use luck o' the Irish

November 5, 2015

Plans to reopen the beloved dive bar and live music venue Billy O’s in midtown Ventura hit another snag late last month, when its prospective new location was put on the market for just under $800,000.

Billy O’s closed in February at 2819 E. Main St. to make room for construction related to the new Community Memorial Hospital.

Shortly before the move, Billy O’s owners Steve and Margo Butler said they hoped to reopen the business at the vacant former Pangea Nightclub, 1644 E. Thompson Blvd., in time for St. Patrick’s Day. To hammer that idea home, they tied a shamrock-bedecked “Billy O’s of Ventura Opening Soon” banner to the front of the building.

Steve Butler said he also made about $10,000 in improvements to the building’s interior and back-patio areas in anticipation of taking over from the current leaseholder.

“I thought it would be really quick, but we have just been running into snags at that location,” Butler said. “The owner and the leaseholder don’t see eye to eye, I guess.”

Butler identified the leaseholder as Ray Cerulli. An alcohol license listing Cerulli as the primary owner of Pangea Lounge was surrendered in January, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Butler said he is waiting until issues with the lease are worked out before he applies for a new alcohol license to operate Billy O’s.

“Our intention is to keep moving forward at that location,” Butler said this week. “We’ve continued to look for other places, but we don’t really have a Plan B.”

Listing broker Vic J. Deirmendjian of Strategic Realty Inc. in Agoura Hills said the building’s owner decided to sell to better focus on other properties in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Nestled between a motel and a driveway that separates it from a private home, the 4,000-square-foot building includes a second-floor loft that could be used as office space. The partially paved back lot offers plenty of parking, Deirmendjian noted.

Then again, the building could be torn down and replaced by something completely new, he said.

“Because of its zoning, it’s a very flexible location. It could be an excellent property for a mixed-use development,” Deirmendjian said.

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