In 2008, Edwin Banacia and Albert Lao set out on a mission of opening a different kind of club in downtown—a big city style venue that would revolutionize Pensacola nightlife.
But now, at the peak of success and being voted Best Nightclub and Best DJ by IN readers, the two owners of Suite Ultra Lounge have decided to evolve—again.
“Over the past two years we saw the progression grow, but I think we got to a point where we saw Suite as something that wasn’t unique and original for downtown,” he says. “I think we were getting to a point where the scene is catching up to us.”
Banacia says he’s working on opening up another bar downtown in place of Suite, but adds that it won’t be a nightclub.
Suite Ultra Lounge wasn’t his primary focus when he returned to his hometown.
When Banacia moved back to Pensacola in 2007, he was set on spending more time with family and had seemingly postponed his music career for the time being.
Nearly three years later he and Lao found themselves running one of most eclectic and successful nightclubs in the area.
“(Lao) and I met in New York as we both worked in music for a long time. He wanted to open a night club/bar and we’re in the process of doing that up there.”
Banancia says he talked Lao into bringing that business here. And the rest is history.
“It was really important for us to have a reflection of who we were,” he recalls. “When we first opened we hardly did any advertising and relied on word of mouth.”
As for closing Suite in such a short time period, Banacia says he has mixed emotions about it but knows it’s for the best.
“We have our regrets…we wish we could keep it open, but we are also excited to work on something new.”