‘Can’t fight city hall,’ owner says
By Amy Fendley
After a three-month fight to offer exotic entertainment on a nightly basis, Capone’s Nightclub is no longer.
The battle Capone’s was fighting with the Resort Municipality of Whistler didn’t last long, but long enough for owner Dan Richardson to watch his club assets get washed, hung and nearly dried.
"We had to sell in the end, due to the municipal bylaw," said Richardson. "We couldn’t fight them any longer. Muni put me out of business."
Equipment was moved out of the underground nightclub this week.
When Richardson first opened Capone’s in December he fully intended on having exotic dancers. But being an expensive proposition, he waited until February to introduce the dancers.
When he started advertising Capone’s Exotic Nights — Wednesdays through Saturdays — that caught the attention of council and the chamber of commerce, both of whom received complaints.
In response, council hastily introduced a bylaw which would have banned nudity in C-licensed establishments, although not in A-licensed bars, such as The Boot which also features strippers.
But before a public information session could be held on the new bylaw, the province announced it intends to change the liquor licensing system, doing away with licences C through J. The bylaw remains on the books as having received first three readings, but it has not been adopted.
"We operated fully within the law when we opened, but then muni wants to pass a new bylaw and basically bylaws us out after we already made our investment," Richardson said. "We thought this could have been be a good niche."
Richardson has been a business owner in Whistler for 10 years. He owns five other local businesses, and says he knows how business works.
"You can’t fight city hall," he says. "We didn’t have to close, we just decided it was in our best interest not to go any further, it was safer that way."
He has sold Capone’s, and its C licence, to an American who owns three bars in Florida. The bar will be reopened, but what it will be called has not been disclosed.
As for Richardson: "I probably won’t go back to the bar business for a while, not in Whistler anyway. It’s not worth the effort put into it in the end."