Company that owns Tarrant County strip club Temptations has troubled history in Texas
Local elected officials are trying to shut down Temptations Cabaret, a strip club in unincorporated Tarrant County. The club they call “a hotbed of crime” is owned by a national company that has had other clashes with local government in Texas, news reports and court records show.
Temptations sits off I-30 near the Parker County line. Law enforcement and residents say the club has drawn crime to the area for years. The state filed a public nuisance lawsuit against Temptations on May 30, and the Sexually Oriented Business Board may revoke its permit in a meeting scheduled for June 21.
On Tuesday, in response to the problems at Temptations, the Tarrant County Commissioners Court adopted new regulations on strip clubs in unincorporated parts of the county (areas that are not part of an existing city), requiring them to close by 1 a.m. and clear our their parking lots by 1:15 a.m.
Temptations belongs to a national company called RCI Hospitality Holdings, the only publicly traded company that owns strip clubs, according to Forbes. Through its subsidiaries, RCI owns and operates clubs and restaurants from Arizona to Maine.
The company also owns Tootsie’s Cabaret in Miami, which claims to be the largest strip club in the world and boasts a mention in a Drake song.
But the biggest concentration of RCI businesses is in Texas, with a dozen in the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone, according to RCI’s website. Law enforcement and local governments have had problems with several of RCI’s Texas locations.
Problems at Temptations
The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office got called out to Temptations 134 times in 2022. That’s more than the 10 other bars and clubs in unincorporated Tarrant County combined, according to the public nuisance lawsuit.
In 2023, there have been at least 82 calls. That includes a May 28 shooting that injured three people and killed another, according to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.
The county is now trying to take away the permit that allows Temptations to operate as a strip club, on the grounds that Temptations is within 1,000 feet of residences.
KERA emailed the address listed on Temptations' Facebook page but did not hear back before this story's deadline.
Temptations falls within County Commissioner Manny Ramirez’s precinct, and he’s pushing for the closure.
"I'm not on a crusade against these types of businesses,” Ramirez said. “This truly is about the crime that was emanating from the specific location and the drain on law enforcement resources that this has become.”
People who live near Temptations have been campaigning to get the place shut down for a couple years now, said Derek Burt, the president of the Lost Creek Estates Homeowners Association. The neighborhood is half a mile down the road from the strip club.
Burt doesn’t have a problem with all strip clubs, he said. He works near one, and he's never seen any of the problems there that he sees at Temptations, he said.
"We’re not judging the moral virtues of any business," Burt said. “It’s just the violence that came along with it.”
Police raids and lawsuits around Texas
RCI Hospitality Holdings owns a dozen businesses in Dallas-Fort Worth, including Temptations, according to RCI’s website. There’s the Studio 80 nightclub in downtown Fort Worth, Chicas Locas in Arlington and Rick’s Cabaret right by DFW Airport.
Club Onyx had reopened as a restaurant after COVID restrictions relaxed, according to the Chronicle. Police threatened to arrest Langan, who refused to shut the club’s doors until 4 a.m. and insisted Club Onyx was not operating as a strip club.
“We have a full-service restaurant,” Langan told a reporter that night. “Everybody in there is ordering food. You have to order food to come in, that’s part of the deal. Yes, we have strippers here. That’s entertainment.”
Langan’s business, Trumps, Inc. — a subsidiary of RCI Hospitality Holdings — then filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Houston, insisting the club followed all the governor’s COVID guidelines at the time, court records show.
A federal judge later granted the club permission to reopen as a restaurant only, with no dancers.
In 2022, police raided another RCI club in Odessa and arrested 18 people. Jaguars Odessa was operating as a sexually oriented business without a license, after being told to get one for two years, police said.
Ector County District Attorney Dusty Gallivan then filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against RCI Hospitality Holdings and Eric Langan, court records show.
The lawsuit alleged that “defendants knowingly tolerate, and have failed to make reasonable efforts to abate, the criminal activities at Jaguars, and instead have enjoyed a steady stream of income from overly intoxicated patrons who conduct these illegal activities on the premises,” and local police had made hundreds of arrests there, theOdessa Americanreported.
The public relations team for RCI Hospitality Holdings did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
RCI has also seen conflict with its own employees. The corporation has federal lawsuits in multiple states, including Texas, that allege the company’s clubs do not pay their dancers. In 2015, the company settled with a group of about 2,000 dancers at a single New York City club for $15 million.
The future of Temptations
A website and Facebook page for Temptations were down on Thursday, but the Facebook page was back up on Monday. Temptations’ Yelp page says the business is temporarily closed and scheduled to reopen in 2024.
Tarrant County District Attorney Phil Sorrells, Sheriff Bill Waybourn, and County Judge Tim O’Hare have all expressed support for shutting down Temptations.
“Temptations is a blight on the community as well as all of Tarrant County,” Waybourn said in a press release. “Closing its doors will provide relief to the surrounding area from the criminal element Temptations attracts.”
The Sexually Oriented Business Board will decide the fate of Temptations’ license to operate as a strip club on June 21.
On Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously approved new regulations on sexually oriented businesses in unincorporated Tarrant County.
The updated regulations will not only require strip clubs to close at 1 a.m. They also add to the list of criminal offenses the county can consider when deciding to renew a business' permit, Ramirez told reporters after the meeting.
"Ultimately, it expands that scope and allows us to take action quicker, because tragically, we had several homicides at this location before action was taken," he said.
Temptations is the only strip club in unincorporated Tarrant County, Ramirez said. There are also two adult bookstores.
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