Build a better strip club, and the men who love tits and ass will beat a path to your door.
That's exactly what Shotgun Willie's, the iconic gentleman's club on the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Virginia Avenue in Glendale, is trying to do by building a new and improved club right behind the current one. The current building will likely be demolished, in part to make way for road improvements that would also benefit Glendale's planned riverwalk.
But Michele Poague, who started as a cocktail waitress at Shotgun Willie's in 1984, promises that the new building won't feel foreign to longtime customers. Those in charge, including owner Debbie Matthews, who is married to Glendale mayor Mike Dunafon, know that to alter it too much would be a mistake. "We're really trying not to change the feel of Shotgun's," Poague says. "We just want to add a couple of fun new things and make it more efficient."
Those fun new things include:
• A new bar and outdoor patio that will be partially covered so it can be used year-round.
• An expanded cigar humidor three times the size of the current humidor.
• Three oxygen booths for ridding customers' clothes of the smell of smoke. "If you've been sitting next to someone who's been smoking, you can step into the oxygen booth, turn it on a little bit and flush your clothes out with oxygen," Poague says. "It's also really refreshing."
• A semi-exclusive VIP area with liquor lockers that customers can buy and stock with their own special spirits. Anyone with a liquor locker would automatically have a reservation at one of the cocktail tables or dinner tables in VIP. But the dinner tables aren't just for eating. When you're finished dining, your waitress "takes the linens and everything off the table, she pulls a pin out, she drops the table and dances on it for you," Poague explains.
• Shadow dancing behind the main bar, with room for one girl at a time to dance. "We saw that in Las Vegas and thought, this is really a cool thing and it kind of suits our personality," she says.
• A bigger kitchen, complete with a pizza oven. "We're going to have a pizza-naming party," Poague says. Customers can suggest toppings combinations and names, and the club will put their favorites on the menu. "We want to get the people that come in here involved in it, so when they bring their friends in they'll say, 'You gotta try my pizza!'" she says.
• A glassed-in room complete with a boardroom table and a projection screen. "So if you wanted to have meetings and show slides, you could do that right there. Or if you wanted to have a girl come dance, you can have her come dance on the table," Poague explains. "Truly table dancing." The room could be closed off for a private party or to give a celebrity some privacy.
• Another glassed-in room, with a large movie screen, where customers could spend one-on-one time with the dancers. "It's a lot more common for a guest to come in and want to take a girl out of the stage rotation and just sit and spend time with her," Poague says. "So what are you going to do for an hour or two with this girl? It's loud; you can't really talk. You can do a couple table dances, but even that might get old after a while. So we thought we would offer them something else they could do." Popcorn, dinner and cocktails would be available in the room, but porn would not; it's against the liquor code, Poague explains. "It would be Netflix," she says.
The new building is expected to cost $3.5 to $4 million, and the staff hopes to move in by November 1. A second story will hold offices and an expanded locker room for the dancers.
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And a new shotgun will grace the roof. The current gun mounted above the Shotgun Willie's sign will stay, but it will be refurbished; in addition, the logo on the sign will be updated and the letter board announcing the daily specials will be replaced with a digital display, Poague says.
"I anticipate a lot of people coming to see the old Shotgun's before it goes," she says. "And once the riverwalk is done, this will really be a Colorado destination."
The new Shotgun Willie's won't be part of the riverwalk, per se, but visitors will be able to see it from the riverwalk — and Poague hopes they'll stop in. "I think a lot of people who come to the riverwalk will come here and feel comfortable," she says.
Comfortable enough to sit back with a fistful of dollars and watch the show.