Arty Shepherd, co-owner: It’s a little bit blurry, and I definitely have a revisionist history of it. George [Souleidis] and I were working together at Matchless. We worked together for a while -- I didn’t know his last name, I don’t think he knew mine. And one day, I’m trying to get everyone out of the bar, so I put on Yngwie Malmsteen. I had no clue he liked metal -- at the time, he was playing in a retro ‘60s girl group -- but we both started singing all the words.
George Souleidis, co-owner: Neither of us were out metalheads, and he was full on Paul Weller, Ben Sherman, Ronnie Wood hair.
Arty Shepherd: I wanted to do a metal bar, or rock bar at least. At that time, I’d been touring a lot, and when you’re in a band, no matter what you play, and let people know you’re into metal, they’ll always take you to the local metal bar after the show. So i’d been to pretty much every fucking metal bar in Europe and England, and I’d started taking notes -- stuff I liked, stuff I didn’t like, how I wanted the place to look. We all agreed that we’d do something that was black and dark with red candles and shit.
George Souleidis: Originally, we just wanted it to be a metal bar. It’s all about what kind of bar would impress us as alcoholics. As a New Yorker, I always grew up going to L’Amours and Limelight. It was always that combination of a little goth, a little metal...you wanted to walk into a club and be absorbed by it. You want to go an escape from everything else, and be in somebody else’s world. If we could’ve bought a church, we would have.
Arty Shepherd: But we needed a name. And one day, I think George had brought in this magazine from 1985 with Dio on the cover. Before any customers came in, I said, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen: I’m going to open this magazine, and whatever I point to first is going to be the name of this bar.’ I opened it, pointed, and it was a review of Saint Vitus’ Born Too Late. And I said, 'Saint Vitus,' and he said, 'That’s awesome.' One of the things that hurts any place when they open is having no identity. You want people to see the name of a place and have an idea of what to expect. Saint Vitus is not going to be a techno bar.