Chris Burg ignores any critics of Southside Grill Gentlemen’s Steakhouse.
He said business has been good ever since he made the bar and grill, formerly just Southside Grill, an adult entertainment venue and restaurant hybrid at 325 11th Street SW in Spencer.
“I wish I would have done this sooner,” said Burg, the establishment’s owner.
Southside Grill Gentleman’s Steakhouse has attracted a lot of attention since Burg made his business plans known in September.
After realizing that current zoning allowed him to do so, Burg re-opened with dancers and the new name in October. A stage with two poles, private booths, new furnishings and fresh coats of paint were added in four days of remodeling.
The gentlemen’s steakhouse averages about 50 people per weeknight and a couple hundred per night on busier weekends, Burg said.
“I’ve filled the place up,” Burg said. “I’ve turned it over a couple times.”
He points out that the back parking lot fills up before the one in front.
“Sometimes it might not look like we’re busy but we have people parking in the back,” Burg said. “Or the taxis bring them.”
Though Burg’s intentions were not the most popular in town when he first announced them, he said people who may not agree with what he’s doing have left the business alone.
There could be some people in town hoping the business fails, but Burg shrugs that off.
“You’re probably always going to have that,” he said. “I really don’t let it bother me. I’m doing my thing. We’re keeping it clean in here, doing what we can. You’re always going to have opposition to anything you do. Whether it’s a casino, a jail or a new store coming to town, there’s always going to be naysayers.”
Southside Grill Gentlemen’s Steakhouse is technically not a strip club.
It is allowed to operate at its current location as long as its dancers have their nipples covered – even if it’s just with clear nail polish, Burg said – and are wearing some sort of bottom.
As long as those requirements are met, Burg’s business isn’t defined under Spencer city code, which draws its definition from state law, as sexually oriented.
The dancers can dance, patrons can watch.
And eat, of course.
Southside Grill Gentlemen’s Steakhouse has a small menu of ribeye, sirloin, a burger and a homemade pork tenderloin. There’s also a variety of sides. Full drink menu, too.
Right now there’s a beer buffet toward the back of the room that’s coming out. Burg said he plans to build a new VIP area next to the private dance booths.
The new business model has not only helped out his personal finances, Burg said, but he added it also has benefited other businesses, including the bars people head to before or after his, the taxi services that shuttle people around town and the hotels where the out-of-town dancers he hires stay.
“It’ll kind of help other bars stay open a little later,” Burg said. “You know, people are getting out and about.”
Burg also owns the bowling alley in Spencer, Liberty Lanes, along with a couple of other businesses. He bought Southside Grill in the summer of 2016.
The restaurant had been a financial burden for Burg before the change.
“It’s helping me,” Burg said of his own finances. “I’m not in the clear yet, but it’s helping me.”
Burg believes the business has gone well because it gives Spencer bar patrons another option in town.
“You have different themes,” Burg said. “If you want to be at a sports bar, you kind of go up to Sneakers and socialize. If you want to hang out with the locals, you’re going to go 5:13. You go to Pour Judgement, they have a dance floor. And then us. We’re adult entertainment. People just go between bars.”
Burg’s also been a more frequent customer for his alcohol suppliers.
“When I was buying beer from our beer vendors, I’d only buy a couple of cases a week,” he said of the period before Southside Grill became a gentlemen’s steakhouse. “Now I’m buying 40 cases a week.”
On most night’s, though, Burg says there are around eight dancers, a mix of women from the area and those who come from outside the area. There are more on the weekends.
Burg said the dancers are there because they want to be.
“Everyone who’s here is doing it because they want to,” Burg said. “Some of them are just curious and they want to try it out. They might be here only one or two nights but, overall, a lot of them stick with it. They enjoy it. They like the atmosphere.”
Obviously, men are frequent visitors, but Burg said he gets groups of women and “a lot of couples,” too.
Last Saturday, Southside held its first ladies night featuring male dancers.
There haven’t been any troublemakers yet, said Burg, who notes staff keeps an eye on surveillance footage and cooperates with police whenever they check in.
Southside Grill Gentlemen’s Steakhouse is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to close.