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Beach club owner vows to keep it tame

No more wet T-shirt contests.

A Clearwater Beach businessman promises to keep that pledge if the city gives him final approval this week to again run Jammin'z, a Mandalay Avenue nightclub.

"I don't want to attract any wrong crowd of people," said Louis Anastasopoulos, head of the corporation that owns Jammin'z.

At least five women at the club have been arrested for exposing themselves, many during contests hosted by disc jockey Todd Clem, better known as Bubba the Love Sponge.

Anastasopoulos reopened the club last month after taking over from operators who ran it for a short time last year. The wet T-shirt contests date to 1994, when Anastasopoulos owned the club.

That won't happen again, he said Friday.

"I promise and I hold onto that," said Anastasopoulos, who began the business as a restaurant in 1992.

From January 1993 to July 1996, police responded to Jammin'z on a variety of calls, including 91 fights, 16 noise complaints and 21 ordinance violations.

A request to permanently reopen the nightclub will be considered Tuesday by the city's Planning and Zoning Board. The board is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. in the Harborview Center.

Jammin'z is operating with temporary approval, which a city memo says allows it to operate only as a restaurant.

But Anastasopoulos' attorney, Tim Johnson, said a city official told him that the approval permitted Anastasopoulos to run a nightclub, which he is doing.

Johnson said Anastasopoulos is active on the beach with business interests in other properties, including a hotel, the Pelican Walk shopping center, a miniature golf course and the Walgreen shopping center on South Gulfview Boulevard.

"Louis is a major investor on Clearwater Beach," he said.

According to a memo, the city's Central Permitting Department has endorsed Anastasopoulos' request for a nightclub as long as certain requirements are met, including no outdoor entertainment and no bikini or wet T-shirt contests on the premises.

Clem is no longer involved with Jammin'z, Johnson said. "Bubba's got his own store," he said.

Clem has announced plans to open a club, Planet Bubba, in the former Jamz-n-Java on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard this spring. He has another nightclub in Tampa's Ybor City.

Milton James, who owns Uncle Milty's, a clothing store next to Jammin'z, is pleased that the nightclub has reopened.

"It's good for business," James said. "It brings people down and a lot of the young people come here to shop."

Julie Nichols, who owns the nearby Angler Motel, said she has not heard any complaints since Jammin'z reopened.

Nichols said she understands the need for a place like Jammin'z. As long as the club controls its noise and the crowds, it doesn't bother her.

"They want to go to a place and have entertainment and there isn't a lot on the beach anymore," she said.