The strip club, which was bitterly opposed by local residents, folded after just five months since opening in Dublin’s Parnell Street in the city center.
“I am shocked, surprised and very sad,” said Stringfellow on hearing the news. “It’s particularly unfortunate because of the success the club has been enjoying,” he claimed.
However, the local firm, Sabley Taverns, which had licensed the club under the Stringfellow brand, cited trading difficulties as the reason for the sudden closure, but also said that protests by locals had had an impact.
In a statement, the company said that the club had missed the valuable Christmas season due to legal issues over licensing and over pickets by locals.
“The ongoing protests outside the club, which have continued to date, resulted in a reluctance of the vital corporate sector to embrace the club,” the company said.
The local woman who led the protests and had continued to picket throughout the club’s existence since February said she was ecstatic at the news.
“I am so excited I can barely talk. I didn’t want a glorified strip club in my area,” said Vera Brady. “There are plenty of jobs around — there’s no need for girls to be lowering and demoralizing themselves like this.”
Stringfellow loses nothing on the closure, as he had licensed the use of his name and club image to Sabley Taverns, which is owned by Irishmen Tom Butler and Alan McEvoy. The English flesh magnate had no investment in the venture.
Butler, whose family has had a long association with the leisure business and pool halls, was previously involved in Q-Zar, an interactive laser game manufactured in Ireland. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. in 1997, having previously been valued at $109 million with 79 franchises worldwide.
McEvoy is a former music industry accountant, with business dealings with the Cranberries, and pop singers Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden.
Sabley Taverns is now expected to go into liquidation. The firm’s marketing and PR manager Tom Sullivan claimed it was a blow for the country.
“For all the protestors might celebrate, people should not forget that an Irish company was forced to close. When tourists read about this, it’s not a good reflection. It goes against everything this country is supposed to be about — advancement and democracy,” said Sullivan.
“An Irish-owned, Irish-operated club is out of business because people don’t like a brand name. This wouldn’t happen in any other capital city,” he added.
The club opened after unsuccessful legal challenges against it and a recent legal case against its drinks license. It aimed at the male corporate sector, but also would have sought business from the burgeoning trade in British “drinking tourists,” a sector which has grown dramatically since the IRA ceasefire in 1994, and the surge in low cost-airline travel between Ireland and Britain in the 1990s. The club also sought customers from show business personalities, as many frequent Stringfellows clubs do in London, though few visited the Dublin club.
Entertainment at the club began with nude dancing, although this was toned down to topless table dancing, with customers charged