Parents and business owners said plans for a bikini bar near 72nd and Blondo Streets don’t fit with the surrounding area.
There’s Bowling Green Park, St. Pius X/St. Leo School, Creighton Prep down the street and family-friendly businesses like Dairy Queen that attract schoolchildren.
And now there’s a proposal for a bar, called Candyland, that would have women in bikinis dancing on stage and separate rooms for private dances.
The Omaha City Council sided with the more than 30 people who showed up to the council meeting on Tuesday to protest the liquor license application for Candyland.
Councilman Pete Festersen and Councilwoman Aimee Melton said they each received more than 100 emails from people opposing the bar.
“What I would like to see in this iconic restaurant location (Mt. Fuji Inn) is something that does a little better job of filling that void with a new business that is more appropriate for this area, more appropriate for this stretch and that fits in better with the other businesses that are being successful there,” Festersen said.
The council unanimously voted to recommend that the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission deny a liquor license for the new bikini bar.
The council’s denial doesn’t seal the bar’s fate. The liquor commission will make the final decision on the liquor license.
Because the City Council recommended denial, Candyland must have a hearing before the state commission. A representative for the city will explain the recommended denial, and Candyland will have a chance to respond.
Candyland is seeking a liquor license as it moves into the former Mt. Fuji Inn at 7215 Blondo St. The Japanese restaurant closed after more than 40 years in Omaha.
The new bar is owned by Ray Kurtzuba, who previously owned or co-owned Gentleman’s Choice Formal Wear, West Lanes Bowling Center, the Orange Weasel bar and smoke shop Mystic Moods, among other ventures.
Kurtzuba, who already has a liquor license at another business, said he wanted to open an adult entertainment facility that does not include nudity, has strict security and employs women 21 or older.
The council’s denial centered on the resident protests and concern about the location.
Opponents objected to the bar’s proximity to schools, expressed concern that the bar would harm surrounding businesses and said the name would prompt tricky questions from inquisitive children headed to school.
City Council members were also concerned that the bikini bar would lead to a loss of customers for neighboring businesses and had questions about Kurtzuba’s convictions for driving under the influence and driving under suspension and whether those convictions were properly disclosed on his application.
“I, for one, don’t want to explain to my 6-year-old granddaughter why she can’t go to Candyland by Grandma’s (house),” Teresa Hall wrote in an email to the City Council. “Candyland is her favorite board game.”
“Well, they might want to go to Doctor John’s to see the doctor, too,” Kurtzuba told the council Tuesday morning in response to complaints about the name. Kurtzuba was referring to Doctor John’s Lingerie Boutique.
Kurtzuba said his establishment is not named after the popular game for kids but after a friend, named Kandi, who helped him brainstorm names.
Hoping a name change might take some heat off of his bar, Kurtzuba agreed to change the name of the bar to Kandi’s. A sign outside would mention food, drinks and entertainment but not bikinis.
He told the council that women in bikinis would not be seen entering and leaving the bar, that there would be no windows for people to look in and that children could find worse on their laptop computers.
But council members weren’t swayed. Councilman Chris Jerram said the bar didn’t fit in the area.
“One of these things just doesn’t belong,” he said.
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