Sorry, We’re Clothed! Police Shut Down Strip Club that Attempted to Reopen as Restaurant

'We’re trying to get the economy going again. That’s what the governor said, and that’s what we’re trying to do,' says club president

A strip club in Houston was excited to open its doors at midnight Thursday in full compliance with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s protocols to reopen the state following the coronavirus lockdown.

But once business started, police were called to the club and shut it down, spending hours trying to figure out what violation had occurred.

Since bars are technically not allowed to open during phase 1 of the governor’s protocol, Club Onyx planned to open as a restaurant with entertainment – not a strip club.

The club was only going to allow a 25% occupancy, customers would have to RSVP online, and the club would be serving food.

“We’re not allowing any lap dancing, and they have masks on,” the president of Club Onyx Eric Langan told ABC13.

“We have a full-service restaurant,” Langan said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Everybody in there is ordering food. You have to order food to come in, that’s part of the deal. Yes, we have strippers here. That’s entertainment.”

A statement from the business to ABC13 prior to opening Thursday also indicated they would follow social distancing guidelines and keep safety “a priority.”

“We are opening as a restaurant. We have a 50 percent liquor license as required by the Governor. We will have social distancing inside and in the wait line. Customer and employee safety is a priority. All staff will wear masks.”

But Houston PD was skeptical about the business fitting the description of a restaurant, and they phoned the District Attorney to ask about the club’s reopening.

That led to police issuing the club owner a misdemeanor charge, after which he called it a night.

“I guess the DA decided they would take charges and press charges against me if I wouldn’t close tonight, and since we are so close to closing time, we are going to go ahead and pack up everybody’s food to go,” Langan told ABC13.

Needless to say, Langan was unhappy with the outcome – especially considering his business is licensed to serve food, albeit as a “sexually oriented business” – and blasted HPD for acting like cops out of communist California, adding he’s prepared to go to jail over the issue.

“I just find it funny that they’ll arrest a taxpaying, law abiding citizen for a Class B misdemeanor is what they said they’d have to charge me with, but they won’t press charges against people breaking into cars right now. I mean, what has the city come to? I mean I live in Houston, Texas. I didn’t know I moved to San Francisco, California. And I don’t like it, so if I have to go to jail to prove my point, I guess I’ll be prepared for that tomorrow,” Langan said.

Following Club Onyx’s closure, the Texas Attorney General’s office was compelled to clarify that bars, tattoos and massage parlors are not slated for phase 1 of the governor’s order.

While malls, restaurants, movie theaters and retailers were allowed to open starting at 12:01AM under phase 1, barber shops, hair and nail salons, bars and gyms ares slated for phase 2 beginning on March 18.

Langan, who owns the company that operates Club Onyx and a slew of other strip clubs, said he would get lawyers involved and still plans to reopen at 7PM on Friday night.

“We’re ready to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem,” Langan said. “We’re trying to get the economy going again. That’s what the governor said, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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