Scarlett’s was always known for that mix of nightclub, adult cabaret, lighting, and sound. When we came in, the interior just needed a facelift, something to attract higher-end clientele, not just the younger late-night crowd. So we tackled that immediately, spending considerable money on improving the interior. They had tremendous lighting and sound, we just added something nicer.
We also focused on the day business, the happy hour, and the early night business to bring more value. It all came together beautifully. That club looks and feels amazing
and does incredible numbers. Since taking over, we’ve consistently beat our numbers and improved yearly.
ED: How long was Scarlett’s new Rick’s Steakhouse and Lounge in development? And are you looking to cater to the existing clientele, a new clientele, or both?
ANAKAR: Scarlett’s had this private events room that wasn’t utilized regularly. The club always lacked a lounge setting for those customers not into the loud music and the party, especially late at night. At Scarlett’s late at night, you feel that energy. It’s boom, boom, boom, boom. Our Executive Chef, Bryan Doell, helped create Rick’s Steakhouse and masterminds all the food service at Scarlett’s and Tootsie’s. He has so much more to offer than just a bar menu.
Tootsie’s has such a fantastic menu and does so much in food. But I wanted to add something elegant to Scarlett’s first for the existing clientele. Why go to Ruth’s Chris or Bourbon Steakhouse before coming to Scarlett’s when you can have it all in one place? It’s a steakhouse and a lounge. You can go back there for the food, but also a nice cigar or a fine glass of Cognac. It has that very upscale feel, very relaxed and lounge-like. The music is lighter, not as loud. You can have a pleasant conversation; an entertainer can have dinner with their client there. It’s a great place, and you’re right next door to Scarlett’s.
I wanted to add something elegant to Scarlett’s first for the existing clientele. Why go to Ruth’s Chris or Bourbon Steakhouse before coming to Scarlett’s when you can have it all in one place?” — Anakar, on the opening of Rick’s Steakhouse and Lounge at Scarlett’s
ED: And I would think there’s nothing else like it open even at 11 or midnight, let alone at five in the morning?
ANAKAR: Everything else, even the Hard Rock Casino’s great steakhouse and restaurants are closed by 11. People in South Florida go out late. A few restaurants stay open until midnight on weekends, but Scarlett’s has a 24-hour license and can stay open as long as we want, but we close at 8 am. on weekends. Tootsie’s goes till 6 am. In our area, 5-6 am
is the time most clubs close. People, especially millennials, don’t go out until at least 11 or midnight, and we get that hit. Many people might want a late dinner, so the Steakhouse is a great option.
ED: As RCI’s and Scarlett’s Executive Chef, can you (Bryan Doell) talk about your role in the opening of the unique Rick’s Steakhouse and Lounge?
DOELL: RCI has allowed me to create a fine-dining restaurant scenario in the adult club with Rick’s Steakhouse. I think it’s an incredible element that just brings a whole new wow to the club.
We’ve got a club that’s open until 8 am, and there’s not a place in town where you can go and get a high-end, 18-ounce rib eye at four o’clock in the morning, but you can here. We will be expanding the menu soon because we’re getting a whole new kitchen.
ED: Prior to being with RCI, how and when did you get your start in the adult nightclub industry and working as a chef in general?
DOELL: I came from 11 years at Michael J. Peter’s Solid Gold in Pompano, where we had an outstanding food program. Michael treated me very well. I like that RCI, whether it’s Tootsie’s, Scarlett’s, or the new Rick’s Steakhouse, they’ve given me a chance to bring that fine-dining restaurant mentality into this business.
One thing I can say about the clubs is that they’ve treated me better than any place in my entire career. I’ve been in the clubs for about 13-14 years, and I love it.
ED: Are there different challenges with running a high-end restaurant like Rick’s Steakhouse that’s open as late as it is?
DOELL: It’s a different kind of a venue for finding good help. Just locating people that are okay with those hours is tough. Most restaurants are done by 11 pm, so the long hours are a challenge when it comes to line cooks and the like. Otherwise, not really. I find that people are receptive to it. You’d be surprised how many people want to get a good steak at three or four o’clock in the morning. It’s kind of funny.
ED: I remember when people came to adult nightclubs at eight or nine; now it’s 11 or midnight. But if the clubs didn’t open till 11, they wouldn’t even show up till 3 am.
DOELL: Exactly. In most places, your dinner rush is 8 pm; we don’t even get poppin’ until one or two o’clock in the morning!
“RCI has allowed me to create a fine-dining restaurant scenario in the adult club with Rick’s Steakhouse. We’ve got a club that’s open until 8 am, and there’s not a place in town where you can go and get a high-end, 18-ounce rib eye at four o’clock in the morning, but you can here.” — Doell
ED: Does Scarlett’s offer food service, besides the Steakhouse itself?
DOELL: We’ve got a great bar menu. We have some steaks and items out in the club, but it’s primarily burgers, sandwiches, wings, and things like that. We take great pride in our food and do everything right here. We make things from scratch. So it’s more than you’d expect.
ED: You (Shawn Barnes) have been Scarlett’s General Manager since 2000. What was the transition like when RCI bought the club in 2017?
BARNES: When I started in 2000, the club was 6,000 square feet. We’ve expanded and grown to take over the entire building; we now have 33,000 square feet. It’s pretty impressive.
We have a great team. A lot of employees have been here 10-15 years. When RCI took over in 2017, Ed told me he likes what we do and will not mess with our team. And, since then, we have had the same team intact. Being consistent and fair to your staff across the board is a winning formula.
ED: With a crowded field of nearby adult clubs, besides its size, what makes Scarlett’s stand out?
BARNES: We started the hybrid gentlemen’s club. It’s a nightclub feel with the gentleman’s club included; we did that back in 2000 when very few people, if anyone, was going that route. And we just stuck to our guns and evolved as we went, and it’s worked out for us.
ED: Do you get a lot more couples with a hybrid club?
BARNES: When we started, we went after the female clientele. We had ladies’ night and went after the couples, so it’s a gender-friendly environment. Single females and couples are welcome. You can be in the club without engaging with the adult side of things and still have a fantastic time.
ED: I’m sure building the new Rick’s Steakhouse was a huge endeavor with tremendous detail. What’s different, and what challenges will that bring to your staff?
BARNES: It was a team effort for me, Ed, and the management team over at Scarlett’s; we took our time and put a lot of effort into making that space what it is.
ED: It sounds like you expect a different clientele at the Steakhouse from Scarlett’s, and if so, what’s different, and what challenges will that bring to your staff?
BARNES: We have a completely new staff in the Steakhouse. We’ve trained our waitresses for fine dining. The bartenders provide five-star service. We’re showing club customers the space, and everybody has been amazed. We just opened and just started marketing it and we’re doing great. In South Florida, Scarlett’s is a household name. So just letting people know that we’ve got the Steakhouse has worked for us so far.
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.