PORT RICHEY — The nearly 14-year-old Brass Flamingo gentlemen’s club is set to reopen this month after a fire in November left the club closed and in need of repair.
"We plan on picking up where we left off," said club co-operator C.J. Bauer.
On the day before Thanksgiving, Bauer’s partner, Rick Hill, got a call at 4 a.m. about the fire. He texted Bauer, who saw the fire blaze through the roof of their club on a 5 a.m. news broadcast.
"It was a nightmare at first," Bauer said. "I feel like I was in shock for two or three days."
Pasco County code enforcement officials found severe smoke and water damage to the building, furniture, roof and electrical system.
Hill and Bauer scrambled through the holiday season to place employees at their sister club in Clearwater, Oasis Cabaret. Some club employees stepped in to help with renovations.
"What a family we have here," Bauer said.
The building at 9034 U.S. 19 has a decades-long history of risque predecessors.
Diamond Dolls opened there in 1989. The Tampa Bay Times reported at the time the adult club featured female dancers who were wearing "bikinis at least." The site became home to Flash Dancers in the mid-1990s and Brass Flamingo in 2004.
Prior to that, the site was home to a family-friendly Hardee’s restaurant.
A few steps away from the sign advertising the club’s second-coming, yellow caution tape blocked the way last month to renovations happening inside the club.
One thing that won’t change are the human trafficking public awareness signs posted throughout the building, Hill and Bauer said. A county ordinance passed in 2016 required "sexually-oriented businesses," post the signs.
For five years, Hill and Bauer said they have been active with COAST, or Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking, and also met with federal agents to discuss the subject.
"We’re real strict here," Bauer said.
Upon re-opening, Brass Flamingo club-goers will see new paint and flooring, a new stage, bar and ceilings.
"We just want to get back to doing what we were there," Bauer said, "A little bit better than we were doing."
Contact TyLisa C. Johnson at [email protected] Follow @tylisajohnson.