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Gilford exotic dance club's request before town

Union Leader Correspondent

September 23. 2013 6:21PM

GILFORD — More than a year after a divided board of selectmen forbid exotic dancing in town, the club owner they targeted is again asking those officials to allow exotic dancing at his club.

Willard Drew, owner of the former King’s Grant Inn on Kimball Road, has had different names for his nightclub over the years, including Kelsey’s at the Grant, Cocomo’s, and Mardi Gras North Cabaret, the name it had when police raided the club in October 2011 and arrested several performers on drug-dealing charges.

The town allowed exotic dancers at the club until last summer. That’s when selectmen, who said they were concerned about the arrests, approved a new entertainment license for Kelsey’s at the Grant, minus the exotic dancing.

The new license allows entertainment from DJs and other live performances, including some adult-oriented activities such as “hot legs” contests and wet T-shirt competitions, but exotic dancing is not permitted.

“Everyone I’ve spoken with said it would be a good thing if there was no more exotic dancing there,” Selectman Kevin Hayes said at the time, as he voted in favor of banning the perfomers, along with Selectman John O’Brien. Chairman Gus Benevides was for letting the business continue with exotic dancing.

Drew, who was cleared of any wrongdoing, presented an application for adult entertainment at his newly named club, the Lakes Region Cafe and Tavern, last week, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.

The application asks that the new club be permitted to hold hot legs and wet T-shirt nights, as well as “amateur nights,” Dunn said.

It also asks the town to allow the club to once again have “adult entertainment,” using the same terminology used in previous applications, which allowed dancers to regularly perform at the club.

“We’re presuming, under the language they’ve used, that they would like to have scantily clad women performing there again,” Dunn said.

Drew’s new application will come before selectmen at their meeting Wednesday night.

Dunn said there were many concerns that led to the decision to ban exotic dancing, including potential safety issues for the dancers. Drew will likely need to address that with the board. The previous application was also incomplete, he said.

“I have no idea how the selectmen are going to react to this at this point,” Dunn said.

Drew could not be reached for comment.

Benevides said he has not seen the new application by Drew. He will deal with it with the other selectmen, he said, when they meet Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“In general, I am a huge supporter of local government helping local individuals and businesses succeed, as long as they abide by the conditions and laws that have been established,” Benevides said.

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