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The sign is similar to those posted around Biloxi when a new business is about to open, but this one created quite a stir on Veteran’s Avenue.
“The Star Lounge,” and “open soon” are highlighted in bright red, yellow and orange, but those who looked closer at the sign could see depictions of two girls, one on a dance pole, and the words “A Gentlemen’s Club.”
Since the sign was posted, the words “A Gentlemen’s Club” were covered but still are visible through masking tape. Depictions of the two dancing girls were not covered.
Michael Gillich III and building owner Stratos Mandas secured a permit Friday from Biloxi to operate a bar at 176 Veteran’s Ave.
On Sunday, Gillich made a public Facebook post that dancers were needed for The Star Lounge, ages 18 and older, with no experience necessary and the possibility of $1,000 a week or more.
“If they have anything other than a bar that they were permitted to do then they’re going to have a serious issue with the city,” said Vincent Creel, Biloxi public affairs director.
“It is for my retirement,” Mandas said, where he would drink cold beer in his own bar.
Contacted Wednesday about the business, Gillich said he was working for a friend who is opening the business, and hung up the phone.
He’s the son of Mike Gillich Jr., a Biloxi striptease club owner who won a conviction against then-mayor Pete Halat in the Sherry murders involving the Dixie Mafia.
He also is a cousin of current Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich. The mayor said Wednesday he has had no contact with Michael Gillich.
Concerns about the use and size of the building and how many people it could accommodate were discussed at Wednesday’s Biloxi Development Review Committee meeting.
Two factors prohibit the use of the building as a gentlemen’s club under Biloxi’s Land Development Ordinance.
Community Development Director Jerry Creel told the DRC the business doesn’t have the correct zoning for a dance club.
“It would need waterfront zoning and their property is not zoned waterfront,” he said.
It also is too close to another gentlemen’s club operating on the west side of Veterans Avenue. Creel said Biloxi requires gentlemen’s clubs to be 1,500 feet or more away from each other. The distance between the two is 285 feet.
In 2010, the Biloxi Council had to designate one zoning classification of the city where adult businesses would be permitted, which is required by law for every city. The council chose waterfront because it typically is away from most residences and the properties often are more expensive, which would discourage businesses with low budgets.
A gentlemen’s club would fall under the regulations for a “sexually-oriented cabaret” in Biloxi’s land ordinance. It is a building that regularly features dancing “or other live entertainment in which the dancing or entertainment which constitutes the primary live entertainment is distinguished or characterized by an emphasis on the exhibiting of specific sexual activities or specified anatomical areas for observation by customers therein.”
The building where The Star Lounge is opening is zoned CB, or Community Business. The owner must go through a hearing at the Biloxi Planning Commission to get a zoning change and the Biloxi Council would then have to vote to approve a change to WF zoning and to allow a gentlemen’s club.