We’ll stay classy, Red Hook.
That’s the promise of the owners of the area’s new Con Amore Cabaret that opened on Commerce Street between Richards and Columbia streets late last month in the same location where the shadowy Paris Cabaret featured racy entertainment including pole dancing, endless loops of “Girls Gone Wild” videos, lap dances, and private rooms.
Instead, the husband and wife team of Earl Dicks and Cynthia Thomas-Dicks say they will target the over-30 crowd with jazz bands, rock ’n roll, DJs, salsa, and stand-up comedians.
“We would have liked the option of being able to have burlesque, but the community board was dead set against any type of burlesque,” said Dicks. “That’s why we dropped the request.”
After the couple revised their business plan, Con Amore in November finally won the committee’s recommendation for a liquor license. Approval came despite committee members’ concerns about crowd noise and loud music, as well as the venue’s troubled history.
“The stripper poles are gone – there’s no real need for stripper poles,” said Dicks. Instead, the nightclub has all new tables, chairs, and sound and lighting equipment.
But neighbors in the manufacturing zone surrounding the venue have already taken their complaints about loud music to the community board, according to some Community Board 6 members.
“It’s a music venue and I’m not sure that the sound proofing is going to be sufficient for the nature of the operation,” said Red Hook resident and CB6 member Lou Sones. “There already have been complaints by neighbors about noise, even before they opened.”
Dicks measured the sound inside the place with decibel system to make sure that area residents won’t be disturbed. He claimed that he has yet to hear a noise complaint.
Skeptical neighbors say that it’s difficult to imagine that the new establishment will be any different given the history of the property’s deceitful predecessors. In 2008, the space housed a dance club called Hello Brooklyn. It was operated by a party promoter who was arrested for selling booze without a license.
“It’s hard to remain unbiased given the history of the place even though it’s a new [owner],” said CB6 member Glen Kelly. “The previous two operators just turned it into strip clubs and the neighbors complained … hopefully this guy is not going to go the same way, but that’s always a risk.”
Dicks previously ran a downtown jazz club called Studio 243. He said he’ll use his experience with legitimate event promotion and crowd control to succeed with Con Amore.
“That’s what separates us from whoever might have been there before,” said Dicks. “I don’t think there is anything like what we are offering in Red Hook.”