Tony Cavasilios has a real jewel —part adult club, part nightclub — in the nation’s capital, and he knows it. Here you’ll find out exactly why The Cloakroom in Washington, D.C. was nominated for ED’s Overall Club of the Year.

Congressmen. Lobbyists. Lawyers. Justices. World leaders. Professional athletes. Corporate executives. Imagine having such a wealthy, “who’s who” clientele to draw from. A clientele that has plenty of disposable income, and is happy to spend their time and money in a gentlemen’s club that offers privacy, upscale surroundings and high-end hospitality.

That city, in case you haven’t guessed yet, is Washington, D.C.

Now, imagine having a beautiful, modern gentlemen’s club in a near-perfect location, right on the corner of a busy intersection. Imagine being the premier gentlemen’s club location in a city that has practically begged for, yet has never really had, such a venue.

Tony Cavasilios doesn’t have to imagine—The Cloakroom is his reality. To say that he’s dreamt of being the owner of a wildly successful gentlemen’s club in Washington, D.C. for years isn’t much of a stretch. From the time he was a teenager, Cavasilios knew that his uncle’s D.C. strip club was a gold mine, a true diamond in the rough. But no matter what he said, or what encouragement he provided, his uncle didn’t want to hear it.

Upstairs view at The Cloakroom DC
Upstairs view at The Cloakroom DC

“My uncle had a club, Louis’ Rogue, which opened in the mid- ‘80s, and it had basically been the same since then,” says Cavasilios. “This was true for mostly all the clubs in the area because there was no competition; the city put a moratorium on club licenses back in 1991. The clubs were making money, so they didn’t feel the need to upgrade or change anything. The majority of the clubs that are here in D.C. are narrow, rowhouse-style buildings and don’t have much room. However, my uncle had a nice big corner lot with a large layout, and I always encouraged him to update the place and make it really nice. Being that he was an old-school kind of guy and he had been making money all these years without renovating, he brushed me off and said, ‘Whatever.’ He wasn’t going to listen to his younger nephew, right?

“So, finally I said, ‘Well, if you ever want to retire, come to me first. I want to buy this place,’” Cavasilios continues. “In 2011, he came to me and said, ‘Alright, I’m done. Do you want to buy it?’ Of course I did! So, I was able to purchase the license and the whole club itself.”

Tony Cavasilios
Tony Cavasilios

Though this was certainly the beginning of Cavasilios’ success story, it had one very big hiccup along the way. Though the newly renovated club, now dubbed The Cloakroom, opened for business in September 2013, it would close just eight months later after a near-tragedy. On a Friday afternoon, part of the building actually collapsed, and on live television no less (part of the building had fallen, and by the time fire trucks, police and local news arrived, a larger section of the building fell).

“We were so lucky that no one was hurt, because it happened at 3 pm on a Friday afternoon,” says Cavasilios, adding that “everyone got out okay.”

After dealing with the typical insurance nightmares, Cavasilios rolled up his sleeves and got back to work. And nearly four years to the day that his club—and his dreams—nearly collapsed, Cavasilios and The Cloakroom were back in business in May 2018. The club did so well in its second incarnation, in fact, that The Cloakroom was nominated for the ED’s Overall Gentlemen’s Club of the Year Award in 2019. ED Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Cavasilios about what it’s like to run one of the hottest clubs in the country—in the nation’s capital, no less—and how he overcame adversity to be nominated for the top gentlemen’s club award in the world.

ED: What is your background in the nightclub and/or gentlemen’s club industries?
CAVASILIOS: This is my first shot at it, actually. I have a construction background; I’ve been a painting and decorating contractor for the past 20 years. I would spend all my summers in Greece, and there is no drinking age there, so I had been going to clubs since I was 15 or 16 years old. I was also a bartender at a club there one summer when I was 20. But other than that, I didn’t know much about the bar or club business.

“Over the span of decades, other D.C. strip clubs could have remodeled or updated everything, they just didn’t want to or didn’t think they needed to, and now they’re playing catch-up. We have all these high-end clients in town that want to go to a high-end place, so I gave it to them. I gave them something nice, something to enjoy, something for everyone.” – Tony Cavasilios of The Cloakroom DC

ED: What would you say was a learning curve for you from the time where the club opened to now, and the learning curve between gentlemen’s clubs and a regular nightclub?
CAVASILIOS: First and foremost: the entertainers. That’s obviously the major difference. They are the bloodline of any gentlemen’s club, certainly mine. At the end of the day, no matter how nice you make the place, people are coming in to see the entertainers. With that being said, everything I’ve heard, from either features or regular house girls (we have about 120 girls on rotation) has all been positive. They all say it’s the nicest place, that they’re treated with more respect here than in any other place they’ve ever worked in, and that they make a lot of money. We have a nice club with respectful management, we bring in a lot of money, and it’s clean, so what more could you ask for in this environment? Nevertheless, I’ve learned a lot over the years, from the first time we were open to now. I feel, despite the building issue, I got lucky because everything is running so smoothly. Of course, I have to give a lot of credit for our smooth operating structure to the amazing staff here at The Cloakroom. They really are the best! There’s always something you have to tweak here and there, but we’re on the right track.

ED: Let’s discuss the design of the club. Who did the design? What were the design elements that you thought were most important to the feel of the club or the identity that you were going for?
CAVASILIOS: My background as a painting and decorating contractor affords me the ability to pay attention to detail, and it’s all in the details. I did the last 10 percent of the finishing touches myself. I sat down with Therrien Waddell (a well-known and well-respected construction firm in Maryland—Ed.) who did the build-out, and explained that I wanted something super-different from the typical D.C. club. I wanted a fun, hybrid atmosphere, something with Miami flare, similar to E11EVEN. I wanted it to be a place where people could walk in and enjoy themselves, and then make the observation, “This is a great place, there just happen to be nude women dancing.” As the club was being built, I was there every day, directing and making sure it was done exactly the way that I wanted it to be.

A friend of mine helped design the upper floor. We have three floors: the main floor, the 2nd floor for VIP, and the 3rd floor as a rooftop. I did most of the design on the main floor. My friend at GP Design designed, furnished, and decorated the whole upstairs VIP, which is beautiful. I got the furniture from a furniture design company out of Las Vegas called RT Furniture. They put in the barstools and everything downstairs. My designer put together the upstairs and purchased a lot of the accent lighting features; I gave her a decent-sized budget. She went ahead and got some nice leather chairs and all of our lighting and fixtures on the walls. The fixtures are from a company called Fine Arts Lamps. My partner has a lot of valuable art pieces that he let the club borrow as well.

ED: Is there any aspect of the club’s layout that you’d consider a “signature” of the overall design?                                                                                                      CAVASILIOS: The best feature by far in the entire club is our main light feature above the stage, and that was done by Michael Meacham of idesign. Everyone loves it. Michael also brought in John Fiorito (of DAS Audio) to do the sound, who is also the exclusive E11EVEN sound designer. Michael and John were a big part of the design process with this, and our light system is really breathtaking. Those are the major players in what made the club so beautiful.

ED: You clearly feel as if you have the only upscale gentlemen’s club in the nation’s capital. What type of market is Washington D.C., and how would you describe your clientele?
CAVASILIOS: The market in D.C. is fantastic. Growing up in Silver Springs, Maryland, and being in the area my whole life, I always thought to myself, why doesn’t D.C. have a nice, upscale gentlemen’s club? I would travel to Las Vegas, Miami and New York, and think, why can’t we have a fancy gentlemen’s club here? Well, the city itself has changed a lot in the past decade. We’ve always had great shopping, but our restaurant scene has blown up in the past six years; we now have nearly 20 Michelin Star restaurants. The city also boasts EchoStage, recognized as the number-two “club” in the world by DJ Mag. And now Amazon is putting a headquarters in Northern Virginia. With all that being said, as mentioned before, having a high-end club attracts high-end clientele, and with everything in the area, we have that client base. The club is located two blocks from the D.C. Convention Center, four blocks from Capital One Arena where the Capitals (NHL) and Wizards (NBA) play, and we’re ten minutes from the Nationals (MLB).

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There are a lot of lawyers in the area, as well as doctors, lobbyists, foreign diplomats, politicians, tourists, convention-goers from out of town and business professionals, and all of these people want to be able to go to a nice, high-end gentlemen’s club. We have 42 VIP lockers, similar to how nice steakhouses have wine lockers where customers can leave their wine in there and such. Clients can reserve these lockers annually and they get their own personal number, a humidor for their cigars that also has a matching locker number, and they can store their liquor or whatever they’d like. It also comes with a personalized engraved bottle of Johnny Walker Blue which has our Cloakroom emblem on it.

Over the span of decades, other D.C. strip clubs could have remodeled or updated everything, they just didn’t want to or didn’t think they needed to, and now they’re playing catch-up. We have all these high-end clients in town that want to go to a high-end place, so I gave it to them. I gave them something nice, something to enjoy, something for everyone. Thirty percent of my customers are women because it’s such a nice place. I actually have groups of straight women just coming in to hang out because it’s a nice place to have drinks with their friends, whether it’s on the rooftop or the main level. They can come in and have a good time, and they won’t be bothered by customers like they would be if they went to a regular bar where guys would hit on them all the time. They just enjoy having their drinks, watching the entertainers do their tricks, and talking.

“We literally have something for everyone—young, old, male, female, big spenders, or guys who just want to drink a couple of beers. We open at 1 pm and from then until close—2 am on weekdays and 3 am on the weekends—we’ll get a little bit of everything across the board. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen walk through our doors, but they all have one thing in common: When they get ready to leave, they all say, ‘Wow, this was a great time!” – Cavasilios

ED: You’ve mentioned the rooftop a couple of times. Tell us a little bit more about it, and how it helps attract an even more diverse clientele.
CAVASILIOS: The rooftop is part of Cloakroom, but we’re calling it separate because we can’t have entertainers up there as the walls are all glass. I call it a neighborhood bar and lounge because you can take the elevator straight up, you don’t have to see any part of the downstairs club if you don’t want to because, let’s face it, not everyone likes gentlemen’s clubs. However, almost everyone enjoys a nice rooftop. It is climate-controlled for year-round comfort with an aluminum ceiling. There are about 15 separate sections of the glass walls and they all have a remote that can control each section individually, so I’ll hit a button and the walls will descend vertically to create guardrails. I can choose to open all of them, or I can open half of them if the wind is blowing one way or something, whatever it may be. Then I have a remote for the roof itself. When I hit one button, the roof will open like a lever effect, similar to how mini-blinds open. Or I can hit a second button and the entire roof will retract back to be fully open. It is a really wild system designed out of Europe. I also have heaters to keep it nice and warm in the wintertime, and in the summer we open it all up since the weather is nice. There is nice landscaping all around and a great view up there. We have neighborhood people come in all the time now that want nothing to do with the gentlemen’s club, they just want to go to the rooftop and have drinks. Then we have customers that come in to pregame in a sense, and then they’ll go down to the gentlemen’s club afterward. We also have people, even couples, that have no intention of going to the gentlemen’s club, but after a few drinks on the rooftop, they’ll say, “I want to go down and see what these girls look like, see what all the hype is about.”

ED: You’ve also clearly benefited from the “gentrification” that has happened around The Cloakroom. When did you see this growth happening, and how has it helped your club?
CAVASILIOS: It was just starting to blossom back when I bought it in 2011. They just built a brand new high-rise building across the street and some retail stores were coming in and it was just starting to develop. Everything was perfect timing for this opportunity. Now, the neighborhood has beautiful apartments, condos, restaurants, shops, hotels, and so many other things.

Also, since our building has multiple floors, the basement and first floor are going to be an upscale Mexican restaurant (Cavasilios is leasing out the space). I saw the design; they’re going to start the build in January and it will be gorgeous, with outdoor seating as well, and they’ll be right underneath us. They want to open their restaurant here because they love the location, they see how nice we keep everything, and they want to be there.

ED: How did you come up with the name The Cloakroom, and does it refer to some part of D.C.’s history?
CAVASILIOS: I wanted to incorporate the city in the name. I sent out an email survey to about 40 or 50 family members and friends with the list of potential names and said that if someone could come up with another name they would get a free bottle service at the grand opening. So one of my sisters, her husband actually, came up with the name The Cloakroom. He explained it in depth to me, and said that it was actually a term used within the Capitol Building where each party (Republicans and Democrats) had their own little lounge where they could smoke their cigars and drink their scotch and relax. That’s where they’d have drinks, hang out and get the real deals done. Those lounges are called “cloakrooms.”

ED: The majority of our readers have not visited The Cloakroom. How would you describe the environment that you’ve created there because it clearly isn’t just a strip club and it isn’t a nightclub. How has the environment you’ve created helped with the diversity of your clientele?
CAVASILIOS: I call it the hybrid model. We literally have something for everyone—young, old, male, female, big spenders, or guys who just want to drink a couple of beers. Even though the majority of our clients are on the higher end, we get all types of people, even guys getting off work at 2 pm wanting to just come in and have a couple of beers and watch the entertainers for a bit. Or, we might get some people who just closed a business deal and they’re coming in to celebrate and buy a bottle at 4 pm in the middle of the week. We open at 1pm and from then until close—2 am on weekdays and 3 am on the weekends—we’ll get a little bit of everything across the board. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen walk through our doors, but they all have one thing in common: When they get ready to leave, they all say, “Wow, this was a great time!”

For more information on The Cloakroom, including a stunning 3D tour, visit

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