Despite fervent protests from some neighbors, plans for a Benson bikini bar might not be dead after all.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission and Omaha City Council shot down Ray Kurtzuba’s request for a liquor license for a bar that would feature women dancing in bikinis at the former Mt. Fuji Inn at 72nd and Blondo Streets.
But his attorney, Kyle McGinn, told The World-Herald on Thursday that Kurtzuba is “prudently considering any and all options” in response to a question about whether Kurtzuba would consider trying to open a club with bikini dancers where people brought their own alcohol or none was allowed.
Still, McGinn said it’s Kurtzuba’s “strong preference” to operate under his intended business model by selling alcohol. He noted that the liquor commission still hasn’t issued an order. Kurtzuba has 30 days to appeal after it does.
Kurtzuba initially floated a bikini bar called Candyland that would have rooms for private dances, but he scaled back that plan. He also agreed to rename the club Kandi’s.
In August, after state lawmakers passed a bottle club bill, the city adopted an ordinance that requires establishments where patrons are consuming alcohol, including at bottle clubs, to apply for a liquor license. Bottle clubs allow members to bring their own booze.
If Kurtzuba went that route, he’d still need a liquor license and would have to come back to the Omaha council, said Councilman Pete Festersen, whose district includes the area.
“I think we made our opinion clear with the unanimous vote against the (original) license,” he said.
Shane Harrington, owner of Club Omaha, which features nude dancers south of 72nd and Dodge Streets, has gotten around that rule by not having alcohol at his operation. Kurtzuba could theoretically do something similar.
Festersen said the city is researching options on how to address such establishments. He said he’s also meeting with State Sen. Theresa Thibodeau of Omaha and neighbors on Kurtzuba’s potential future plans.
Peter Manhart, president of the Dundee Memorial Park Association, said he remains opposed to Kurtzuba’s plans, saying there’s not a clientele for a bikini bar in central Omaha.
“In the day and age of #MeToo, it’s just ridiculous,” he said.
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