Jonathon Liedtke – ourWindsor.ca – June 27, 2013
A new and discreet adult entertainment parlour opened last weekend in the downtown core on Chatham Street, and while the soft launch saw more than 600 customers entering through the rear, few were notified that the business existed.
Alley Katz, the latest enterprise of Katzman Enterprises which owns both Cheetahs and Leopards adult entertainment venues, is aiming to cater to a different demographic than their other establishments.
Featuring higher prices, an atmosphere more resembling of a lounge than a strip club, and a maximum capacity of only 120, Alley Katz is targeting an older demographic.
“Our older customers don’t have a place to relax … they want more of a lounge environment, something that’s a little more private, more discreet,” explained Sam Katzman, Operations Manager at Katzman Enterprises who explained that staff joking call Cheetahs a “toga party” because it gets to be a “real crazy time, a party.”
Alley Katz is aiming to provide a “big city feel in a small space,” he said.
Twelve adult entertainment licenses existed in 1985 when the City of Windsor imposed a moratorium that halted the growth of the industry. Last week when the new owner of the former Million Dollar Saloon complex handed over the adult entertainment license for the property, the number of licenses in the city dropped from six to five.
“We bought the building which had a license with it [in the past], and Rock Venue Parlour was our tenant,” explained Katzman.” This building had an existing adult entertainment license and that’s why we’ve been able to carry it on.”
Michael Chantler, the Supervisor of Licensing & Deputy Licence Commissioner for the City of Windsor confirmed this with ourWindsor.ca.
“The premises in question has always maintained the licensing,” said Chantler. “It is not a new use for the premises … the business in question is complying with licensing at this point.”
Renovations to the establishment cost upwards of $600,000 and Katzman explained that virtually everything is brand new.
Ward Three city councilor Fulvio Valentinis wasn’t aware that there was a new adult entertainment venue opening up in the downtown core and wasn’t surprised to learn that one had.
“It is an existing license and there are very few left in the city, so when people don’t hand in their licenses, you expect that they’re going to reopen or that they’ll be looking to sell the property or the business to someone who wants to take over the license,” reasoned Valentinis who added that there was no notification required to be provided to council.
Valentinis understands that there is an entertainment aspect to downtown and that adult entertainment has been a part of that aspect.
“We’re a little more sensitive because we’re trying to change the face of downtown, we’re trying to attract some new demographics, we want more people to move downtown,” said Valentinis. “Usually adult entertainment parlours are not what people would want in their neighbourhood and to compound the issue here I think with the university and the college moving a lot of students downtown … it certainly can become problematic.”
Mayor Francis mused publicly in the Windsor Star that should an adult entertainment venue open in close proximity to the university that it could negatively impact the university’s attempts at luring out of city students.
At the time of publication, Mayor Francis had not returned a request for comment.
Valentinis joked that while “some of the students might see it as a positive” that an adult entertainment venue is located less than a block away from the new campus, he wasn’t sure if families would be as supportive.
“It certainly isn’t something that we’re going to tout to try to lure students downtown, but by the same token, we’re going to expect the operators to be professional in the way they run the business,” said Valentinis. “Mr. Katzman has been good in that regard trying to be a good corporate citizen. Some may view the activity as somewhat less than desirable in their neighbourhood [but] it is a legal business and he certainly has a right to operate.”
Larry Horwitz, Chairman of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association explained that his organization is looking for “balance in the core” and doesn’t believe that the venue will negatively affect the core.
University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman was out of the office when OurWindsor.ca sought a media interview, however Holly Ward, the university’s Chief Communications Officer provided comment.
“We’re fully aware that a wide variety of businesses are available in the downtown core,” said Ward.”We are primarily focused on developing three historical buildings … [and] we’re looking forward to helping to revive the downtown with an influx of approximately 1,000 students, faculty and staff in 2015.”
Katzman doesn’t believe that his establishment will be a problem for the university whatsoever.
“As far as the university moving downtown is concerned … we have a back door entrance …it’s very discreet and it doesn’t draw people right off the street,” said Katzman. “Unfortunately adult entertainment has a stigma that’s attached to it, dirty, grungy, not for the mainstream, but we fight to break that stigma every day.”
Katzman views his establishment the same as “every other bar” and doesn’t forsee it a problem with the university. “If anything, I can see it as one more business in the downtown core [that’s] alive, open and profitable … that makes our downtown special. “
With a 23 and up target demographic, typical university undergrads aren’t eligible to enter the club due to age limitations and higher priced alcohol provides an extra deterrent.
“We’re proud that we sell drinks for $10.25 and bottles of vodka for $250,” said Katzman who explained that such measures help to mitigate drinking and driving and enforce responsible drinking. “This establishment may be safer than some places [downtown] selling drinks for $2 or a bottle of vodka for $75 as far as university students are concerned.”
“It’s hard to over serve when four drinks cost you $45,” he said.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.