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BYOB ends at all-nude nightclub

New Jersey- from – Patrons of a Sayreville strip club should leave the beer and wine at home now that a Superior Court judge has dismissed an injunction he issued last month allowing the practice to continue.

The injunction put off enforcement of an ordinance Sayreville approved last month banning establishments without liquor licenses — except restaurants — from allowing customers to bring their own alcohol.

Greg Vella, an attorney representing 35 Club, also known as XXXV Gentlemen’s Club, on Route 35, said the rule is discriminatory and singles out XXXV because of the risqué nature of the business.

Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman, sitting in New Brunswick, ruled yesterday that Club 35 did not demonstrate it would be significantly harmed because of the bring-your-own-booze ordinance. He said patrons go to such clubs for entertainment, not necessarily because they can bring their own beer or wine. He drew similarities between patrons at a strip club and those at a baseball game.

“Attendance at Yankee Stadium or Giants Stadium will be the same if beer is served or not,” said Berman.

“People are going for the game, not for the food or liquor.”

The law, which took effect shortly after its unanimous passage July 13, also limits the amount of alcohol customers may bring to a restaurant (enough for three people). In addition, restaurants may not charge an admission fee, membership fee, cover, corkage, or service charge. Also, restaurants may not advertise that they are BYOB.

The law also defines a restaurant as “having an adequate kitchen,” “served at tables by a restaurant employee” and “customers are provided an individual menu.”

Vella argued XXXV has had no problems since they’ve been BYOB for two years, and that the law is subjective and an abuse of police power because officers will determine what an adequate restaurant entails.

“There’s no rational connection,” said Vella, who argued the borough should either permit or ban all establishments that have BYOB. “It creates different classes of competition and a different class of citizens. It’s unfair competition.”

Gregory Bevelock, an attorney representing Sayreville, said the ordinance was created because the borough had problems with owners who abandoned their liquor licenses, which were in danger of being revoked, and operated as BYOB establishments instead. Problems, such as noise and violence, he said, have persisted.

Bevelock also said there is no evidence XXXV would be hurt financially because of the ordinance, and that competition is fair because the patrons of restaurants and strip clubs are not the same.

“This is based on the nonsensical notion that an all-nude dance club competes with restaurants,” said Bevelock.

Jeff Bertrand, Sayreville’s business administrator, said the ordinance was not created to single out any particular establishment, and that some municipalities, including Wall Township and Rahway, have similar ordinances.

The club is currently in litigation for allegedly violating a zoning law that states the club isn’t allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of homes or public parks.

The court will reconvene in October.


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