The 82nd standard — taking adult nightclubs to a higher level


(Note: This story appears in the January 2022 issue of ED Magazine)

Kevin “Rich” Richardson, aka the “Tom Brady” of the Bucks Cabaret organization, shares one trait with the iconic passer: a heightened demand of excellence.

Kevin “Rich” Richardson remembers arriving at the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army and being told of a higher standard he would have to meet. “They said, ‘‘There’s the Army standard and then there’s the 82nd standard,’ and he raised his hand up higher,” recalls Richardson. “And he goes, ‘We’re not doing just the standard, we will always do above the standard.’ That resonated with me way back then.”

And since that day, Richardson has applied that sense of accountability and excellence to his 24-year career in the gentlemen’s club business.

“In our company, and throughout my career, I think a big part of my success is my standard for my leadership was always higher than the industry standard,” he says. “I’m not going to say our club’s the best club or our company’s the best company, but our mentality is to be a higher standard than our competitors, to be a good example for the industry. That mentality has to carry out through every phone call, decision, meeting, Zoom call, strategy. It’s always, ‘How can we be better than we were yesterday.’ If you ever rest on your laurels, then you’ll regress. I live by that.”

ED Magazine spoke with Richardson about his transition from military life to gentlemen’s club mainstay, his advice to fellow owners on expansion, and why Bucks co-owner Curtis Wise considers him his “Tom Brady.”

ED: What was your background prior to working in the adult nightclub business?

RICHARDSON: I was in the military for five years, 82nd Airborne. I was in five years, once I got out, I started bartending. I got recruited into the business by the Baby Dolls Management Group here in Dallas-Fort Worth. I worked with them for about eight years, worked my way all the way up from low-level manager to general manager. I worked at most of their clubs at some point during those eight years. I then got asked to leave there and join a growing company in Jaguars. At that time they had four locations in West Texas: Abilene, Lubbock, Odessa and El Paso. I was working at Baby Dolls Dallas at that time, which was the number-one-grossing adult club in Texas. I guess the owner that interviewed me figured if I was good enough to run that club, I was good enough to run his club. When he hired me, I said, ‘I’m not leaving to be a GM, my next step is to run an organization.’ And he said, do a good job with this club, and I’ll make you head of operations of the company. So, that’s what I did. We had great success there in Dallas and Ft. Worth. We grew to 12 locations that eventually sold to RCI in 2012.

In 2012, I started my own brand: Roxy Showgirls. I had one in Phoenix and one in Ft. Worth. I’d known Curtis for years and he asked me if I wanted to partner up on a club in Ft. Worth. We partnered up and made it a Bucks Wild. And so, I decided at that time to leave my own brand and partner up with Curtis to grow a bigger name brand across the country, because I had already kind of done that with Jaguars on the operational side. It’s certainly what I wanted to do on the ownership side. I’ve seen great potential in Bucks and the partnership with Curtis and Scott (Discianno). And here we are today, 12 (clubs) into it with the Bucks name on them.

We’re working in four states, nine liquor (establishments), three BYOB. We have quite a few locations with the Bucks brand, other than the Trophy Club we recently acquired in Greenville, South Carolina.

“When I first got to the 82nd, they told us ‘There’s the Army standard

and then there’s the 82nd standard,’ and he raised his hand up higher.

And he goes, ‘We’re not doing just the standard, we will always do above the standard.’ That resonated with me way back then.” — Kevin “Rich” Richardson

ED: Curtis refers to you as his “Tom Brady.” Can you can you elaborate on that?

RICHARDSON: Well, that’s the first time I heard that. I certainly like that! Oddly enough, I was speaking with Scott the other day and I don’t know if Curtis considers himself the (Bill) Belichick (Editor’s note: coach of the New England Patriots), but I think Scott Discianno is Belichick. But I do feel like Tom Brady as I’ve been successful on different teams. I’ve had great success in the business. I’ve run all the big-money clubs. I kind of feel a little bit like the quarterback. I feel like I’ve had that level of success in the industry. When someone says that, you’d rather somebody else say that about you than you say it about yourself. So, I’ll let Curtis have that quote that I’m Tom Brady.

I look at Curtis like he’s Robert Kraft (Patriots owner). Curtis is a great owner, and it takes great ownership to develop a company like this. And somebody’s got to be at the top rung. And even though we’re equal partners in a lot of locations, he’s the visionary. He’s the person who says let’s go get that talent, let’s go get that club. He always looks at it from an owner’s perspective because the majority of his career, he’s been an owner. He always looks through the glass as an owner, and that’s important. I look at it from many different angles. And I think that’s why Tom Brady is a good comparison, because I’m looking at option one, two, and three, I’m looking at all different angles. Sometimes you’ve got to look at it from an owner’s aspect; sometimes you’ve got to look at it from a manager’s viewpoint; sometimes you’ve got to look at it from upper management; sometimes you’ve got to look at it from the employee level.

I’ve hit every rung of the ladder, there isn’t anything I haven’t done in a club — I’ve cooked, I’ve DJ’d, I’ve been shot manager, waitress manager, entertainer manager, general manager, regional manager, head of operations, and I’ve been an owner. I look at it through many different lenses. And then kind of jumping to Scott who is really the third arm. Scott is head of operations, he’s earned that title, he’s the hardest-working guy in the industry. When I look at a Belichick personality, the coach that’s always there at every practice, at every game, putting in the hours, looking at the game film, that’s Scott. Scott is looking at every personnel decision to win the game. And that’s all he wants to do, is win. You take those three personalities and you end up with a great dynamic.

ED: Curtis was telling me when you were feeding people due to the pandemic, and some of the people couldn’t get to Dallas, Scott was actually driving the meals there.

RICHARDSON: He was the first one to volunteer. You didn’t even have to ask him. When the idea came up of what could we do to help people in this time, we said ‘Hey, we got a kitchen, we can cater food.’ So the idea was let’s feed people a family-sized meal three times a week in our Dallas Ft. Worth area where we have more clubs. Scott was the first one to say ‘Me and my wife will go and hand those out.’ He was there every single day, those three days a week, handing those meals out to every single employee, dancer, manager, etc.

Oddly enough, I was speaking with Scott the other day and I don’t know if Curtis considers himself the (Bill) Belichick, but I think Scott Discianno is Belichick. But I do feel like Tom Brady as I’ve been successful on different teams. I’ve had great success in the business. I’ve run all the big-money clubs. I kind of feel a little bit like the quarterback. — Kevin “Rich” Richardson

ED: If you were talking to an owner that had one or two clubs and wanted to expand and do more clubs, is there any advice you might give them?

RICHARDSON: Probably the best advice I can give somebody is they need to make sure they have the right guy to help them expand. I think that kind of comes full circle in a lot of what we talked about with me and Curtis and Scott. If you’re going to grow to multiple locations — and that’s why I teamed up with Curtis — you just can’t do it alone. You have to have other levels of management that you can rely on and trust to help build those locations. I would say the number one piece as an owner: you’re going to have to find someone else — whether they’re a GM or regional manager — somebody that wants to grow with you. They don’t have to necessarily be a partner or full-fledged owner, but there has to be somebody that wants and is willing to grow with you, or it’s going be real tough for you to have multiple locations.

ED: What surprises have you encountered since opening clubs outside of Texas? Has anything really surprised you?

RICHARDSON: I continuously try to learn. What I found is when you’re choosing places to operate, you need to find places that are friendly to the industry, at least for that time being. You also need to find areas where people have some expendable income and want to have a good time. If you’re looking at going to a different city and operating, go to restaurants and bars and theaters. See if they’re full, see if people are enjoying and spending expendable income. If they’re not, then you’re probably going to have a tough time in that market. And that might be a reason that club’s for sale.

Larry Kaplan has for 20 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 larry@kaplanclubsales.com.

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