Three people are rolling the dice to turn a former casino into a Kennewick strip club.
Kennewick officials are processing Octavio Rodriguez’s application to open City Stars Gentlemen’s Club. The club would take over the former Lucky Bridge Casino site at 101 S. Gum St. that’s been vacant since December.
Rodriguez said this is his first business venture since moving to the area in 1989 but he declined Monday to talk more about the project.
Last week, he posted an online advertisement for waiters, waitresses and “female entertainers/dancers.” In it, Rodriguez said the club plans to open in December.
“We are looking for girls that have great attitudes because we want this to be a great experience for our customers,” he said in the ad. “We also want all of our employees to feel comfortable and excited when they come to work.”
While Rodriguez submitted the application, two other partners, Hector and Jennifer Salgado, are listed on the company’s corporate profile on the Secretary of State’s website.
It’s been 21 years since a strip club was open in Kennewick. In 1996, Randy Sak rented a spot on Kennewick Avenue for Exotic City. The controversial club lasted a couple months before it lost its lease.
The club was the scene of picketing, lawsuit threats and several arguments among elected officials.
After it closed, Sak promised to reopen somewhere else, but it never did. Several city and county ordinances developed out of concerns about the club.
While the adult entertainment businesses are no longer allowed in the downtown business area, city code permits them in other commercial areas, including in the area along Gum Street, which is Highway 397 near Chemical Drive.
The 11-page set of rules that govern adult entertainment businesses in Kennewick cover everything from the lighting to when and where entertainers can take their clothes off.
Some of the rules include:
▪ Every manager, owner and entertainer is required to be at least 18 and have a criminal background check before they can start working.
▪ Anywhere a patron can go needs to be lit well enough to see, and no entertainer can touch a patron “for the purposes of arousing or exciting a patron’s sexual desires.”
▪ The stage and anywhere the public can go, except for restrooms, needs to be visible anywhere in the building.
▪ Anyone getting naked needs to be on a stage at least 18 inches above the patron seating area and separated by 8 feet from the public. This separation needs to be enforced with a 3-foot-tall railing.
▪ Nothing happening inside the club can be seen from outside the club.
At this point, Rodriguez needs to wait for police approval before he can begin to operate. The plans also are reviewed by city planning, building and fire departments.
While planning officials signed off on the application, building and fire departments are waiting until the renovations are permitted, inspected and approved before they approve of the permit.
The city is required to either reject or approve the business license within 30 days, but generally the process takes about two weeks, said Evelyn Lusignan, the city’s public relations and government affairs director.
Rodriguez still needs to apply for a building permit to make renovations. And state online records show the business has yet to apply for a liquor license.