Potential burlesque-themed cafe causes uproar among residents

Despite never having appeared before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, a burlesque-themed cafe announced its plans to open for business near a residential neighborhood in Shelton via Facebook earlier this week.

Some residents were upset and concerned to hear the business’s plans.

The P&Z will discuss the business at its Tuesday, Nov. 14 meeting in City Hall.

According to City Zoning Official Thomas Dingle the business will not open until it has been approved by the P&Z.

“Nothing will be approved until it’s in zoning compliance. If it’s not in zoning compliance they will be issued a stop work order and we will go for an injunction if we have to,” said Dingle. “It’s just a matter of us getting our facts together and reviewing the minutes of the meeting and their liquor permit application, are they subcontractors for Hunan Pan … . These are things we have to find out.”

The “Hush Shelton” Facebook page has since been deleted, but its page operator posted the following in response to resident concerns:

“I would like to take the time to introduce to you my establishment soon to open its doors to the town of Shelton, Hush. We are very excited to say that after months of challenging work, dedicated staff, a multitude of research and countless hours of manual labor we are quickly approaching the opening of Hush here in Shelton, CT.

“This new location presents to all a totally new concept we hope all of Connecticut locally and beyond will come to experience. We have combined the ideas of 1920’s speakeasy with a burlesque feel! We welcome all to our establishment to experience this vintage experience right here in Shelton, CT at Hush!!!

“I feel as though the space is the perfect venue for this concept. We have made every effort to channel in the roaring 1920’s and transport you back to that time creating a space that allows you to feel like you are in a true speakeasy of that era.

“We have already established our café permit and have plans to have local DJs, karaoke, piano players, bands, burlesque entertainment, and comedians as part of our entertainment lineup. “There has been a lot of chatter about what may or may not be in our plans for the future of this business. To be clear and completely transparent I want to state that this in no way shape or form is a strip club / adult entertainment establishment nor are there any plans or intentions to become such in the future.

“I would like to state that regardless of what people have been speculating I do not have any intention of breaking any of the regulations or ordinances in city of Shelton. I hope that all will come down, once we have opened our doors to the public and see firsthand this unique combination, enjoy a drink and support a new local business launching in the city of Shelton, CT.”

The business is or would be located underneath what is currently Hunan Pan, at 303 Bridgeport Avenue. When the Herald visited Hunan Pan, one of its employees who wouldn’t give a name, said the business below them is owned by a different owner.

According to Dingle, Hunan Pan applied and was ultimately approved for an expansion to their downstairs. Hush would be occupying that space that was once a wine bar used for pre-seating to the above restaurant space.

The person managing the Hush’s Facebook page stated that the establishment will “in no way shape or form” be a strip club, but in a private message with candidate for Third Ward Alderman Pat Jeanetti indicated otherwise.

Jeanetti posted screenshots of their conversation to Facebook in the private group called “Shelton CT Moms.” In their conversation the person managing the Hush Shelton Facebook said the business will feature a room for topless lap dances. The person operating Hush’s Facebook went on to say that the women working in the establishment would never be 100 percent nude. Residents didn’t seem to care as they were more concerned with the proximity of the business to the Sunwood apartments. Others simply said the business “has no place in Shelton.”

When Jeanetti continued to question the business’s person in charge of the Facebook page they explained that it will not be a “typical strip joint.”

The person said, “it’s going to be classy not a typical strip joint where you hear rap and have not so nice people in it. We are a speakeasy with discreet Entertainment. Our girls will be in dresses or burlesque themed outfits. Our official open date will be announced soon.”

How do they have a liquor permit, already?

Dingle said a business typically does not receive a state issued liquor permit until it has formally been approved by the local board or commission.

This new business managed to obtain a liquor permit for the would-be Shelton establishment back in April of this year, before it officially opened for business or appeared before P&Z. Dingle was unable to determine how that happened, but said “everyone has been calling about it.”

The cafe liquor permit has been in place since April 6 2017, and is valid until April 5, 2018. The permit allows acoustic performances (not amplified), comedians, disc jockeys, karaoke, live bands, and plays/shows.

The Herald contacted P&Z Commissioner Jimmy Tickey, but he said members are unable to comment on applications before they appear before the commission.

After contacting Tickey, the Herald also contacted P&Z Administrator Rick Schultz, but was told he was out of the office until Tuesday, Oct. 31, attending a seminar.

Director of Liquor Control at the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection John Suchy was unable to be reached for comment as of Friday, Oct. 27.

Hush Shelton on Facebook

The business initially stated that it was a “gentleman’s club” in their “about” section, but then changed it to a “speakeasy” shortly after multiple residents questioned whether it would be an adult entertainment attraction or not. A speakeasy is a term used to describe a place that sells alcohol, during prohibition these locations were used to purchase alcohol discreetly.

The page’s cover photo was also changed from a woman seemingly undressing, to a photo of a woman with her finger to her lips in a “shhh” gesture.

Dingle said the P&Z staff instructed the owner of the business to take the Facebook page down.

“P&Z is on top of it and we’re awaiting the liquor commission to answer our questions,” said Dingle. “We want to make sure they didn’t alter the approved liquor sign off … . The liquor permit before it goes to the state it has checkoff boxes for what you’re allowed to do. If we say ok, you can have acoustic music, but no live bands. If they take our application and check off something we don’t know about, until we find out there’s a violation, we have to go after them to say that we never approved that.”

Stay with the Shelton Herald for updates on this story.