Williston strip clubs receive second reading, Heartbreakers still not giving up cabaret hopes

WILLISTON -- The fate of the two strip clubs in downtown Williston would seem to have been decided Tuesday night in a unanimous vote to ban them by the city commission.

WILLISTON -- The fate of the two strip clubs in downtown Williston would seem to have been decided Tuesday night in a unanimous vote to ban them by the city commission.

But Greg Hennessy, an attorney representing Heartbreakers - one of the clubs --  sounded as though he was anything but resigned to that fact even after the commissioners voted to shutter adult cabaret entertainment downtown.

He said legal action was a real possibility.

Hennessy said he has made two attempts prior to the city commission meetings in efforts to try to reach some compromise, but has instead, he said, hit a brick wall.

“The long and the short of it is we asked for a meeting and they refused,” Hennessy said.


Hennessy offered a letter that he said was quickly buried at the meeting two weeks ago and remained unread to the public.

In the letter, Hennessy outlined counter-arguments which questioned the evidence that had been provided to the commission to remove the strips clubs from their current sites of operation.

City officials said more than 200 police calls had been made to Whispers and Heartbreakers and Williston Police Department Lt. Det. David Peterson said they were exhausting man hours investigating incidents that occurred there.

Hennessy requested police logs for the timeframe Peterson was citing.

In summary of his findings of non-food service liquor license holders, 1,081 police calls had been made to bars throughout the city over that span, and of those, he said he instead found 163 had been made to the strip clubs - Whispers edging out Heartbreakers 82-81.

In a preliminary runthrough, Hennessy found equal man hours were being spent at another city bar -- DK’s -- in response to calls about violence, drugs dealings, and prostitution.

“I think they cooked the books in presenting numbers,” Hennessy said. “There’s a lot of legal dust in the air. I still have not got my arms around the motivation for why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Hennessy said he provided another letter for Tuesday’s meeting but it went without mention. The second reading did not require the city to open the floor for public comment and commissioners instead moved to vote unanimously on three ordinance changes.


With the vote, the establishments are now required within a year to move into an industrial zone and would remove the ability to sell alcoholic beverages where adult cabaret entertainment was being performed.

Whispers employees have already stated that they aren’t looking to go head to head with the city commission. The plan is instead to operate solely as a bar.

Heartbreakers isn’t looking to go as quietly and hasn't ruled out legal recourse.

“The court is always there at the end,” Hennessy said. “In the meantime, I’m still interested in a negotiated settlement.”

After the meeting, Heartbreakers owner Jared Halbrook  said,  "We have a year following the final signing to operate and generate revenue so we can move to an industrial zone. We're working with Commissioner Tate (Cymbaluk) to find a new location,” Halbrook said. "I want to get across that were still open."

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