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Fight to shut Chicago’s last topless bar may be near an end

Perry Mandera

Perry Mandera

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Updated: November 23, 2012 6:06AM

City Hall’s 19-year battle to shut down Chicago’s only topless bar could be nearing an end, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused a last-ditch appeal from the bar’s owner — the second time the nation’s highest court has taken a pass on the case.

“I don’t think there are any more legal issues” to fight, says David A. Epstein, one of the lawyers for Pooh Bah Enterprises Inc., the operator of VIP’s A Gentlemen’s Club, which bills itself as “Chicago’s only full liquor and topless bar.”

So what now after the Supreme Court declined Oct. 1 to get involved?

“It’s up to the city,” Epstein says. “They could just revoke the liquor license” and allow the club to remain open — and the topless dancers to keep dancing — but not be able to serve drinks.

He’s hoping City Hall won’t go further.

“I don’t know why the city would want to shut it down and lose all that tax revenue,” Epstein says.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s law department isn’t talking about the future of the bar at 1531 N. Kingsbury.

The fight to close the bar dates to 1993. That’s when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley moved to revoke the club’s liquor license and shut down the business for violating the city’s liquor ordinance by having dancers expose their breasts and show too much of their butts.

The bar changed hands and is now owned by trucking executive Perry Mandera, who once testified that the club made $6 million a year by offering nudity and liquor while other clubs inside the city limits don’t.

Mandera has hired a team of lawyers who’ve been fighting the city for years, arguing that the city’s ban on nudity at bars is unconstitutional.

Tim Novak

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