Wild Zebra appeals closure, citing Foxy Lady case


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Allens Avenue strip club shuttered by the Providence Board of Licenses over prostitution allegations is asking the state’s Department of Business Regulation to allow it to reopen.

Attorneys for the Wild Zebra filed a notice of appeal Thursday with the DBR, along with a motion for an emergency stay of the licensing board’s decision while the appeal is pending. A hearing on the emergency stay is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.

In the motion, attorney Peter Petrarca says “the business will be over” if the stay isn’t granted. He says there is a high likelihood that the club will ultimately win its appeal, citing the closure of the Foxy Lady by the same licensing board in 2018.

The Foxy Lady was allowed to reopen by the DBR — but just as a nightclub — before ultimately being able to fully resume operations with adult entertainment as the result of a court case.

“Without having the ability to operate, the company will certainly never recover,” Petrarca asserts.

The DBR only hears liquor license appeals, not adult entertainment, so at most the state agency would allow the business to reopen as a nightclub. The appeal of the adult entertainment licenses would need to be done in the courts.

The licensing board voted 5-0 on Wednesday to revoke all the club’s licenses, after undercover detectives said they were offered sex in the private VIP room in exchange for money by a dancer at the club. A detective also testified that he saw condoms in the trash can in the VIP area, and heard moans and groans that sounded like sex in the other cubicles.

The club’s owner said patrons often wear condoms during lap dances to protect their clothing, and that the presence of condoms did not mean there was sex happening in the club.

The board found that the alleged prostitution resulted from “gross negligence” of the establishment. A city ordinance requires that the board revoke all licenses if they find gross negligence.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook

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