Strip club and Sarasota County at odds

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SARASOTA - The Cheetah Gentlemen's Club has been part of the Suncoast's adult entertainment industry for years.  But a new Sarasota County ordinance may change all that.

"We sent memos out on January 15th giving them 30 days to come on in for licensing," said Sarasota County Zoning Administrator Brad Bailey.

Bailey is referring to the new regulations that all adult entertainment business in the county must now follow.  "The ordinance requires all adult business to be licensed on an annual basis with renewals after the first year.  Tave to come in compliance with several portions of the code," added Bailey.

For Cheetah Lounge being in compliance would mean a lot more than getting a license. In fact management says the new regulations would hurt the club's bottom line.

"These restrictions would basically put the Cheetah out of business. They want us to cover up, basically putting on more clothes than what a typical girl would wear on a Sarasota  beach," said Ken Tatarow, one of the Cheetah's owners.

Tatarow says the new rules don't stop there. "They also want us to stay a certain distance around anyone in the club, no one can touch anybody and you can only perform dances on the stage that are 18 inches high."

Currently the dancers at Cheetah are nude and can touch the customers they are dancing with.  Which is why the dispute between the county and the club has made its way into the courts.  The county filing an injunction against the club for non compliance. 

But Cheetah's owner says they feel they are being singled out and that if other companyies aren't being required to follow the new law, Cheetah should also be exempt.

"This also included the Ritz Carlton, any theatre, and movie that shows nude dancing, nude entertainment or nude people they have to apply for the license.  The same license they're trying to get us to apply for, yet they have only noticed us, they haven't noticed any of these other establishments, " said Tatarow.

Cheetah's management also says the club employees about 250 people and that they will continue to fight this ordinance to save those jobs.