SOUTH BELOIT (WIFR) – A South Beloit club is fighting to stay open after the city claims the business is a sex club. The owner of that bar says the allegations aren’t true.
The Emerald Lounge in South Beloit is a very unassuming place. The jewel on the door is the only sign there’s anything inside and what’s going on indoors has the city and the club’s owner at odds.
“This place started out with six guys in a garage and we decided it was time to get out of the garage, open up our own place.”
The Lounge has a few rooms filled with a bar, couches, chairs, a pool table and a dance floor equipped with a stripper pole.
“Hey, we’re men. That doesn’t make us a sexually orientated business.”
The owner says it’s nothing more than a place for people to hang out, but city employees believe it’s a swingers club and want to shut it down.
“We don’t have a swinger club here. What we do is we throw theme parties and as you see going around the lodge if we had a swinger club, we’d have a lot more fun.”
In letters obtained by 23 News, the City calls the Emerald Lounge a sexually oriented business, citing the stripper pole and a website as evidence, a violation of city zoning codes.
“This club or whatever you want to call it doesn’t sell anything, so it doesn’t meet up to the zoning codes. Plus, it’s within a thousand feet of residences and that type of establishment isn’t allowed there,” said South Beloit Police Chief Dean Stiegmeier.
“We actually fit into their zoning regulations under their private club. That’s where we’re the loyal order emeralds. We actually filed our non-profit papers,” said the club owner.
As for the website the city cited in its cease and desist order, the owner says that the web page was made by an angry ex-member, claiming that the club’s actual website makes no mention of swingers. Chief Stiegmeier says officers haven’t had any calls to the address, however he worries something may happen.
“That type of business can lead to all types of things. Drug dealing, violence, especially if you get alcohol involved,” said Chief Stiegmeier.
The owner of the Emerald Lounge says he is going to fight this. He says it’s just a few people who work for the city trying to bully him into shutting down.
In order to get into the club, you have to be a member. The owner didn’t want us discussing the requirements but they do look at age and a few other things and there is a membership fee, $20 dollars a year for couples and $50 a year for single men, according to the website.