Should Crystal City Restaurant (422 23rd Street S.), the long-time Arlington gentlemen’s club, change its name to something that makes its adult entertainment focus more explicit?
That’s what one resident told ARLnow.com in a letter to the editor. “John Henry” — not his real name — says that he has seen unsuspecting families walk into the establishment, which features semi-nude dancers.
“The embarrassed looks I’ve seen from parents quickly ushering out their young children bring tears to my eyes,” he wrote. “There should be some requirement or warning sign on the door of the club or a doorman that warns those entering that it is a sexually-oriented business… certainly not a generic ‘Crystal City Restaurant.’”
(A longer excerpt of the letter can be found below, after the jump.)
William Bayne, Jr., the owner of Crystal City Restaurant, says the establishment’s name is as old as Crystal City itself and won’t be changed.
Bayne says he has taken steps to make sure the nature of the business is clear to those walking in the door, including a sign on the door that contains the words “gentlemen’s club” and “must be 21 to enter,” but he can only go so far before the county or nearby businesses would object.
“Obviously we don’t want people coming in that are underage… [and] we don’t want people coming in here that don’t know what it is,” he said. But “the county is not going to let us put pictures of women outside.”
Bayne says that he’s willing to put a sign up saying “gentlemen’s club” or “live entertainment” in larger letters outside, if there seems to be a call from the community for it.
“I would have no problem in doing that,” he said, adding that he’s not aware of any other formal complaints about the restaurant’s name. The restaurant does serve a full lunch and dinner menu.
Bayne, a life-long Arlington resident who has three children in Arlington Public Schools, says Crystal City Restaurant first opened at The Arlington Luncheon in 1941. Back then, it was just a normal restaurant.
His father, William Bayne, Sr., purchased the restaurant in 1963 and then renamed it Crystal City Restaurant around 1970, when the neighborhood was first dubbed Crystal City. A relatively short time thereafter, Bayne Sr. added topless dancing to bring in more customers.
The name of the restaurant “wasn’t changed to disguise anything,” Baynes said. “It’s the name of the place.”
Aside from his ownership of Crystal City Restaurant, Bayne also owns the Highlander Motel, near Clarendon, and is a co-owner of Crystal City Sports Pub. The motel, Bayne noted, is likely to be redeveloped within the next 5 years.
“I have someone calling me every week about it,” he told ARLnow.com.
The anonymous letter to the editor about Crystal City Restaurant:
One eyesore and major blemish on Arlington and Crystal City is the so called “Crystal City Restaurant” which is a disguised name for a seedy “strip club.” It was given this name (Crystal City Restaurant) to purposefully disguise its real operation, as well as to allow expense account credit card charges to look like they were coming from a restaurant, not a strip club.
On the seedy Crystal City block of 23rd Street between Route 1 and 23rd Street, there lies the Crystal City Restaurant, sandwiched between a 7-11 and a Chinese restaurant.
I regularly see families walking through Crystal City with children in tow, mistakenly walk into the Crystal City Restaurant only for them and their children to shockingly discover virtually nude dancers clad in pasties and tiny thongs on stage without any warning of the sexually explicit nature of this establishment. This is shameful. The embarrassed looks I’ve seen from parents quickly ushering out their young children bring tears to my eyes.
There should be some requirement or warning sign on the door of the club or a doorman that warns those entering that it is a sexually oriented business… certainly not a generic “Crystal City Restaurant.”
This ruse should be stopped.
As a Crystal City resident, I am ashamed of this blemish on the enormous investment Arlington County is making to revitalize Crystal City, as well as the image it portrays nationwide through its proximity to the hotels of Reagan Airport and Crystal City.
Please at least warn Arlington residents as to what the Crystal City Restaurant really is… a strip club… and move to governmental oversight to protect innocent visitors to Crystal City from the shock of walking in on virtually naked dancers on stage while thinking you are headed for a local restaurant.