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No exotic dancing license for Gilford club

Union Leader Correspondent

October 10. 2013 9:15PM

GILFORD — Selectmen gave unanimous approval to the owners of the Lakes Region Cafe and Tavern for a new entertainment license Wednesday night, minus the request for exotic dancers, in part because the town says the owners haven’t guaranteed potential dancers’ safety.

The club featured female exotic dancers until October of 2011, when police raided the club and arrested several dancers on drug charges. The club was called Mardi Gras North Cabaret at the time.

At a state liquor commission hearing in the spring of 2012, it was revealed that during a private dance at the club, one dancer said a customer “bit her on the breast,” according to Town Administrator Scott Dunn.

“Because of that, if the license were approved (by the selectmen), we want to ensure the safety of dancers,” Dunn said.

The club’s owners, Willard Drew and Tom Lyons, were represented at Wednesday night’s meeting by their attorney, David Bownes. They were asking for a new entertainment license that would allow exotic dancing and other adult events such as “wet T-shirt” and “hot legs” contests at their club.

The club lost its license with the town and its state liquor license following the October 2011 drug dealing arrests of several dancers at the club.

In the summer of 2012, Drew asked for a renewal of his entertainment license to include exotic dancing, but two selectmen — Kevin Haves and John O’Brien — voted against it, with one selectman — Gus Benevides — voting to allow it.On Wednesday night, the selectmen approved the entire entertainment license — minus exotic dancers. Dunn said the club owners are expecting to regain the club’s liquor license in coming weeks.

Dunn said the town has not received adequate answers to questions pertaining to dancer safety, as well as how the owners will prevent drug sales from occurring at the club in the future, and how it will prevent other issues relating to a case of alleged improper liquor sales.

Bownes said Thursday he plans to answer the questions, though he said he has already answered them in the past.

“We plan to run a clean, safe, business,” Bownes said.

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