After months of waiting, clubs are beginning to open at 50% capacity. Scott Lizza, owner of Monroe’s of Palm Beach, and Jeb Jarrell, of the Snooty Fox Gentlemen’s Club just outside of Colorado Springs, and DJ Platypus of Tootsie’s Cabaret, joined the ED Webcon on June 4 to discuss how they — and customers — are living in the new normal.

Scott Lizza

Lizza said Monroe’s had a soft opening about two weeks ago and that they are operating on a reservation-only basis through their adjacent restaurant.

“Our main goal was to get our staff back in the groove of things, like a preseason, being that our employees have been off for two months,” said Lizza, who added the club has a list of procedures they go through before opening.

Guests have their temperatures checked before getting out of their cars. Employees and entertainers are temperature checked prior to coming in and before they leave and that’s logged daily.

At the front door, Monroe’s is checking IDs with scans and sanitizing guests hands and the door bouncer’s hands after ID checks. Bartenders sanitize between every transaction.

Internally, Lizza said they installed a new HEPA filter air filtration system.

“We did everything we could possibly think of,” he said.

As far as masks, following “a long discussion” Lizza said employees are not required to wear masks, but masks are available for those wanting to. Presently, Monroe’s is not having lap dances, just on-stage entertainment.

DJ Platypus

Platypus said there are stations in the hallway from Tootsie’s parking garage with handouts reflecting the newest guidelines for the 90,000-square-foot building where social distancing isn’t necessarily a problem with reduced capacity.

“We’ve been able to maneuver things — our downstairs and upstairs VIP sections are half the furniture. It’s spaced accordingly,” Platypus said.

As a potential long-term nod to the future, he brought up how QR codes are serving as substitute menus.

A patron scans the code with their smartphone and the entire menu pops up digitally.

“It’s a really cool, unique way of doing things,” Platypus said. “Even when you turn a table over, you don’t have to worry about new customers coming in and touching the same menus and that type of thing, especially when food is involved. It’s pretty easy to do because it wasn’t an app, it was just on your smartphone and it’s automatic.”

QR codes could also prove to be a more economical alternative to educating and promoting, if just in the short-term normal. Platypus mentioned it could be harder to come by promotional funds since other areas of operation may need that money.

“Education, adapting and executing need to be the new staple of rules moving forward until we get back to what normal is going to be for however long that is,” Platypus said.

One of Jarrell’s biggest issues has been combating inebriated patrons because they may ignore or forget the more hygienically stringent atmosphere.

“We’ve rearranged the club — we can’t have groups larger than 10 — so we’ve sectioned it to where everyone that comes in has their own section and we’re keeping our waitresses and staff on top of anything they need,” Jarrell said. “They’re moving from the restroom to the chair, chair to the VIP (section), VIP to out the door.”

Everyone has been really good about working together and understanding this is a whole new thing, it’s fluid. I haven’t had any major issues other than constantly having to say ‘Put your mask back on.’ — Jeb Jarrell

Platypus pointed out how part reduced capacity creates a demand that can naturally be used to coax belligerent customers out of the establishment.

“At this stage in the game, the business side of me says we have to turn tables,” Platypus said. “That’s a great point in the night to explain to your guests ‘Hey, this is brand new. We’re just opening up again, but we want you to keep coming back so let’s space it out and give others a chance to play.’ It’s a great excuse to get them out and look out for all of our guests.”

Despite all the confusion about who is regulating what, it’s clear everyone — customers, entertainers and staff — are eager to be back.

Jeb Jarrell

“Everyone has been really good about working together and understanding this is a whole new thing, it’s fluid,” Jarrell said. “I haven’t had any major issues other than constantly having to say ‘Put your mask back on.’

“We have a line out the door that’s six-foot spaced all the way around the parking lot for people to stand if they want to stand and wait to get in,” he added. “Friday night, it was about a two-hour wait and they stood out there, excited to come in.”

Lizza believes it’s a matter of choice.

“The majority of the people that have major fears, can stay home. The other side, entertainers that have children at home and are fearful — they’re not coming back to work yet,” Lizza said. “The good thing is people that are coming in understand they could be putting themselves at risk. All we really can do is push forward the best safety possible.”

Jarrell is taking comfort in the notion this, too will pass.

“As the restrictions get lifted, it’ll be back to business as usual. There’s no way to maintain this kind of diligence and social distancing that long. It’s not a business model any of us got into.”

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