Kane County might soon lose its only gentlemen's club as county board members Tuesday voted to deny the pending new owners of Blackjacks Gentlemen's Club a liquor license.
Debra Diaz and Seif El Sharif, operating as DD&SS, Inc. started exploring a purchase of Blackjacks more than two years ago. That sale has been contingent on Diaz obtaining a liquor license from Kane County. But county board members voted 11 to 10 to deny the application. They cited both uncertainty about who really owns and operates the club now as well as a general desire to see something other than adult entertainment at the location in unincorporated South Elgin.
"From an economic perspective, we all want to have successful businesses," county board member John Hoscheit said. "The property was previously a restaurant business. Some of the tax numbers would still come here if the location operated without adult entertainment. So the question is, what is the incremental difference between this and another business. Knowing the constituents in the area, they would prefer not to have an adult entertainment venue there."
Hoscheit said a vote against the license may force a new use for the property with new owners.
The fate of the property has been in limbo ever since the current father and son management team were sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion and illegal gambling last year. Blackjacks lost its liquor license at that time. The club has continued to operate without liquor ever since then but with far less income, according to county sales tax receipts.
Diaz told board members she and her partner have nothing to do with any current or existing legal issues surrounding the club. She promised to operate an "upscale adult entertainment" venue along the lines of her club in Harvey. Diaz and her partner are in the process of buying five adult nightclubs.
"We have never had a major violation in any of our establishments," Diaz said. "We have a clean liquor record. This property will not create any more problems than any other business allowed to operate in this zone."
Diaz presented a plan to increase the number of bouncers and install security cameras in the club for the first time. She also predicted the creation of up to 250 jobs, many of them dancing positions, and more than $2 million of revenue.
But with three members of the county board absent, Diaz fell short in the votes she needed to get her license. Of the 10 county board members voting in favor of the license, several indicated fears of worsening problems if the current owners kept the property. Others said the actual adult use was a zoning issue, not a liquor license consideration.
County board members Mike Kenyon, Kurt Kojzarek and Susan Starrett all missed the vote.