Rick's Cabaret, the publicly traded owner and operator of upscale gentlemen's clubs including several in Fort Worth, said it will open an ultra-chic restaurant and nightclub called the Vee Lounge in downtown Fort Worth later this year.
But this Rick's won't have strippers.
Instead, the location will be an "ultra exclusive" lounge and restaurant during the week that will turn into a nightclub on weekends with world renowned disc jockeys and a high-energy dance floor, said Ed Anakar, Rick's operations director.
It will not be a gentlemen's club, he said. "It's going to be different."
Rick's has leased 13,434 square feet at the street level of the parking garage across from The Tower condominium building at 500 Taylor St. The location was previously leased by Fat Daddy's bar, but has been vacant for some time.
The site will feature a full-service kitchen, serving tapas dishes with Mediterranean, Asian and South American flavors as well as a dinner menu. Brunch is planned for Saturdays and Sundays, he said. It will not be staffed with topless or even scantily-clad servers or entertainers, Anakar said; rather, female and male servers will be dressed in formal black and white attire.
"This won't be a cabaret," Anakar said. "Not at all. This is not a licensed adult establishment. This is strictly a restaurant and bar."
The Vee Lounge will have VIP tables, private sky boxes and lavish decor. Renovations to the space have started, but Rick's is waiting to meet with city staff in the coming days about a permit to install a commercial kitchen, Anakar said. It hopes to open in December.
Anakar said this is not the company's first restaurant venture. In New York, it operates Rick's Cabaret-NYC Steakhouse, which has been rated one of Manhattan's fine dining places by Time Out New York.
Anakar said Rick's also plans a sports bar called Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon and Restaurant next to its north Fort Worth Rick's Cabaret location, off NE Loop 820 and Interstate 35W, in the spring, as well as a concept called Bombshells, a military-themed restaurant near downtown Dallas.
Rick's, founded in 1983, boasts on its website that it pioneered the creation of elegant gentlemen's clubs featuring beautiful topless dancers. The company went public in 1995 and its stock (ticker: RICK) is traded on the Nasdaq exchange.
Last week, the company said its nightclubs recorded $23 million in sales in the quarter ended Sept. 30, a nearly 12 percent increase from last year, and that same-store sales, at locations open at least a year, were up 1.8 percent.
According to a press release, contributing to the sales increases was the Rick's Cabaret near the south entrance to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, which was a BYOB club in 2011 but now serves alcohol. The club opened in January 2011, shortly before the Super Bowl played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, causing a stink with airport executives and some civic leaders who said the strip club would send the wrong message to visitors about the area.
Rick's also operates clubs in Miami, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Houston, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and other cities as Rick's Cabaret, XTC, Club Onyx and Tootsie's Cabaret.