IRELAND'S first Stringfellows strip club closed its doors last night just five months after it opened in a fanfare of publicity.
Silver-haired impresario Peter Stringfellow, who performed the opening of the club in north inner city Dublin in February, said he was shocked and surprised by the closure of the franchise but was still looking for other opportunities in Ireland and other countries.
The club had been dogged by rumours of low attendances and almost nightly protests by local residents opposed to the venture since its high-profile launch.
Stringfellow said: "It is with disappointment that we have learned of the demise of the 'Stringfellows' venture in Dublin.
"It is particularly unfortunate because of the recent success the club has been enjoying," he said.
The nightclub boss said neither himself nor any of the Stringfellows companies had any shareholding or financial interest in the Dublin business known as Sabley Taverns Ltd, which was operating the club.
"I genuinely hope that Stringfellows at Parnell St could reopen in the near future with new owners and operators," he said.
A statement from the operators Sabley Taverns Ltd said the club had been due to open in November 2005 but protracted legal issues surrounding the granting of licences resulted in the loss of valuable Christmas trade.
"In addition to this, the ongoing protests outside the club, which have continued to date, resulted in a reluctance of the vital corporate sector to embrace the club," the company said.
The Parnell St venue was charging punters ?30 for three-minute private dances in the glitzy club clad in faux leopard-skin chairs, crystal chandeliers and red velvet curtains.
"I am personally very sad about this as I thoroughly enjoyed associations with Dublin," he said.
Stringfellow denied the club, located away from the city's other strip clubs, had been placed in the wrong location.
"To this day I don't think it was in the wrong place," he said. "I would leave the club where it is and it was wonderfully decorated."
Residents in the area surrounding the nightclub today welcomed the closure as a victory.
The north inner city residents have been protesting outside the club, waving banners declaring 'No Sleaze In Our Area', on an almost nightly basis.
Bids in the courts to challenge the transfer of a drinks licence to the nightclub failed.
Labour Party councillor, Emer Costello, labelled it a victory for people power, stating it was a completely inappropriate location for the club.
"The residents were left with no alternative but to take to the streets when they effectively found themselves by-passed by both the planning system and the licensing courts," he said.
Ms Costello described the situation as bizarre as off-licences need planning permission but clubs providing adult entertainment do not need a special licence to operate.
Dublin's Deputy Lord Mayor Aodhan O Riordain also welcomed the closure.
Local independent TD Tony Gregory described the club's impending closure as a "great victory for the local residents".
Picketing by locals opposed to the location of the club may have been a factor, but overall it was simply a bad business decision to locate Stringfellows in a residential area in the north inner city, he said.