Last September, the Milwaukee Common Council's Licenses Committee Monday denied an application by the owners of Silk Exotic Gentleman's Club for a Class B Tavern and Tavern Amusement (Cabaret/Nite Club) License to operate in the former Martini Mike's location at 730 N. Old World 3rd St.
Today, there's news that another Downtown gentlemen's club could be in the works.
Club 311, 311 E. Wisconsin Ave., was granted renewal of its license on May 9, 2011. Despite police reports of bad behavior, reported crimes around the club and neighbor objections, Charles E. Fowlkes of CEF Holdings, LLC was granted a Class B Tavern and Amusement license "with change of entertainment."
Ald. Milele Coggs, the vice chair of the committee submitted, but removed an amendment to the license that would "exclude stripping or exotic dancing."
So, is Club 311, located just east of Downtown's main corner of Wisconsin Ave. and Water St. and steps away from a coming soon new hotel, going strip club?
Downtown Ald. Bob Bauman told me via email today, "Basically, exotic dancers were approved however the licensee stated he only required exotic performers for special events such as birthday parties, which he claimed he has done before under his prior license. I would suggest getting a copy of the actual license application. The wording (that was approved) is interesting."
I've requested a copy of the license and will post it once I receive it. Sources tell me that 311 operates with a month-to-month lease and that the building operator won't tolerate problems in his space.
As for specific plans at Club 311? I have a call into the restaurant, and as of 12:30 p.m. today the voice mailbox at Club 311 was full. I'll add more once I hear back.
Personally, if Downtown "needs" a strip club, I say put it on or near Water Street.
It's not easy to find the "right" location for such an entity, but there is a Downtown Milwaukee Master Plan that lays out development, entertainment and generally has guided the amazing growth in Downtown over the past 12-15 years. Downtown leaders and the council should follow it.
Water Street is Milwaukee's major entertainment district. It's already home to one strip club and is full of bar hoppers nearly every evening. There's parking, fewer residents and space available there. It may not offer the "upscale" appeal that the owners want, but with its mix of bars, restaurants and retail, Water Street could work.
If a strip club wanted to open next to you in Shorewood, the Bay View neighborhood, the East Side of Milwaukee or anywhere for that fact, many would fight it. So, it will be interesting to see how this new possible Downtown plan plays out.
Sure, most upscale "gentlemen's clubs" are well run, full of security and quick to kick out patrons that don't behave. Yet, no matter how you spin it, perception is realty when it comes to strip clubs. Nude women, alcohol and packs of men have their share of perception challenges.
Yet, maybe this Wisconsin Avenue plan is meant to be and full steam ahead. But if this is the case, what does a gentlemen's club at 311 E. Wisconsin Ave. mean for East Town and Milwaukee's Downtown area?
Thoughts? Use the Talkbacks to respond.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.