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Strip clubs open to college students

ATHENS, Ga. — Just like they were threatening to, Athens’ two strip clubs have opened the doors to University of Georgia students over 18.

Chelsea’s and Toppers International Showbar lost their liquor licenses for 2004. They’re trying to get a judge to force the government to re-issue the liquor licenses despite local laws thatban strip clubs from selling alcohol.

In the meantime, attorneys said the establishments will target a more youthful crowd while the battle continues. The bars’ legal counsel also may write an emergency appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Superior Court Judge Steve Jones, who ruled on Monday that the clubs’ previous licenses were not subject for renewal, said the case is important because it affects the livelihood of the clubs’ employees.

The two bars employ 80 people.

Sandra Gardner, owner of Toppers, says 30 percent of her dancers have already left in anticipation of cutbacks.

No alcohol sales drive patrons away, dancers say.

Gardner said she has paid $5,850 for a new liquor license that she has not received. Gardner said she applied as a new business for a license from Athens-Clarke County on Thursday but faces an uncertain 30-day waiting period.

Steven Strelzik, attorney for Chelsea’s, suggested at this week’s hearing that the clubs would discontinue nude dancing so they could serve drinks. Gardner said the girls would begin wearing pasties and g-strings when a liquor license was acquired to comply with county laws.

“I think more people will be more accepting of that rather than nude dancing,” Brandy said.

But until the license is granted to the clubs, 18-year-olds will be allowed in.

“This is the first time ACC has decided to take an action for these businesses to lose money,” Strelzik said, adding that the county may be held responsibility for the loss of revenue at both businesses.



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