(Note: This story appears in the July 2022 issue of ED Magazine)
With an adult nightclub career that spans over two decades, as well as an extensive background in the hospitality industry, RCI President Ed Anakar has been a prominent figure not only in the exponential growth of the Rick’s Cabaret club chain, but in the sustained success of Tootsie’s Cabaret and Scarlett’s Cabaret in South Florida.
Ed Anakar is a man of few words. But when he talks, make no mistake — people listen.
As the President of RCI Management, Anakar criss-crosses the country from one new RCI acquisition to another. Though his home base is Tootsie’s Cabaret in Miami Gardens, Anakar spends about as much time on the road as he does captaining the world’s largest adult nightclub.
ED Magazine had the rare opportunity to interview Anakar about his career background and transition into the adult nightclub industry, how the RCI clubs stay on top in a very competitive region in South Florida, RCI’s latest acquisitions, and all of the out-of-the-box projects the adult nightclub giant has undertaken at its landmark South Florida clubs, Scarlett’s and Tootsie’s.
ED: How did you get started in the hospitality world, and how did you end up in the gentlemen’s club industry? When did you start with Rick’s, and how did your role evolve into the president of RCI Hospitality?
ANAKAR: I grew up in the hospitality industry. I started my work experience in the restaurant business at 16, working as a waiter at my family’s upscale Mediterranean restaurants in Houston, Tangier’s Restaurant & Bar, a Moroccan-themed restaurant and lounge. Then, at 18, I took to the industry and joined a local hotel management company where I went through a comprehensive management training program, learning every aspect of the business. The company managed a variety of hotels with different well-known brand names such as Holiday Inn and Quality Inn and owned nightclubs and restaurants. I rose to the role of district manager of the chain, traveling across the US and overseeing multiple locations.
In 1998, I left to become an operating partner of a company with nightclubs in Houston, including one we turned into a gentlemen’s club. That was my second involvement with a gentlemen’s club. Before that, I helped a friend open a small adult cabaret in Harlingen, Texas.
Eric and I were friends through Houston’s nightclub business. In 2002, the company I was partnering in had recently turned a nightclub into a gentlemen’s club. Eric said he was acquiring that location and wanted me to join his management team to help him run the other locations. So, I came on board in what was then Rick’s Cabaret International that year.
At that time, Rick’s Cabaret, a NASDAQ publicly-traded company, had eight locations under the umbrella; the rest is history. We are at 60 units now. Being part of RCI’s growth and success has been a fantastic experience for me and the team. We’re truly humbled, and we always try to do right by the company and give it our best.
“You have to stay relevant, and always on top of your game when it comes hospitality and service, which takes a lot of work. People travel from all over the world to South Florida for that experience. So we must always live up to the expectation, putting on that great show, day in and day out, and be the best at it.” — Anakar
ED: To suggest that things with you and RCI have been “busy” lately is a clear understatement.
ANAKAR: We have been very busy, to say the least. We’ve had many exciting things going on in the last six months. Our VCG club chain acquisition includes 11 clubs, plus we’ve added a few others, here and there.
ED: Scarlett’s Cabaret and Tootsie’s Cabaret are very different clubs, yet seem to complement each other very well. Each club has unique characteristics, yet a customer at Toostie’s may also enjoy Scarlett’s, and vice versa.
ANAKAR: Our teams at each club work well together, hand-in-hand, sending each other guests. A guy might spend time at Tootsie’s, then say, ‘I’m going to try something different.’ We’ll explain to him, ‘We have a car outside; we’ll send you to one of our nearby sister properties.’ And, that gives them that option for something they enjoy more, or something different.
ED: With 60-plus clubs, is it ever frustrating that you can’t be personally involved with everything, every facet of every club’s operations? It’s been said that the three most important words in business are “successfully delegate authority.”
ANAKAR: That’s true, delegating is challenging but crucial. And with RCI, we’ve been very fortunate to have so many great people on board. And that’s why we’re successful.
ED: South Florida is arguably the most competitive adult club market in the country. What have been some of your keys to staying on top in that region?
ANAKAR: You have to stay relevant, and always on top of your game when it comes hospitality and service, which takes a lot of work. People travel from all over the world to South Florida for that experience. So we must always live up to the expectation, putting on that great show, day in and day out, and be the best at it.
Hospitality is a huge aspect of the guests’ experience, which I learned during my previous experience with hotels and restaurants. Guests expect to be treated well, and I’ve always applied the same standards to adult nightclubs.
To help maintain our position as the best South Florida adult clubs, two years ago, we hired Executive Chef Bryan Doell. Bryan manages all of the food service at Tootsie’s and Scarlett’s and was instrumental in the creation of Scarlett’s new Rick’s Steakhouse and Lounge, which is the only late- night, fine-dining establishment in the area and one of the few anywhere that’s open till 5 a.m.
ED: It was recently mentioned that RCI will introduce a helipad for Tootsie’s Cabaret. When will it be ready, and what led to bringing a helipad to Tootsie’s?
ANAKAR: Tootsie’s sits on 16 acres of property with a vast parking lot. We’re always looking to do something more at Tootsie’s that nobody else offers. We had a VIP guest at the 2009 Super Bowl who wanted to bring his helicopter, and depending on the area, as long you have enough lighting and are not close to power lines or anything similar, a helicopter can land on private property as long as the pilot feels it’s safe. We’re very close to having it ready. I believe Tootsie’s will be the only adult club that offers a helipad (the closest helipad is at the Hard Rock Stadium, where the Dolphins play).
Tootsie’s gets a lot of celebrities. And as everybody knows, South Florida traffic is terrible and getting worse. You can rent a helicopter in South Beach to go to other areas, just like a limo. So we figure it will be a great option to have.
Larry Kaplan has for 21 years been the Legal Correspondent for ED Publications. In addition, Mr. Kaplan is a business broker in the sale and purchase of adult nightclubs and adult retail stores and the Executive Director of the ACE of Michigan adult nightclub state trade association. Contact Larry Kaplan at 313-815-3311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.