Why can't Lyle Goodman, a New York kind of guy who hates this friggin' town, put his signature on 13th Street?
"This is bullshit," says Pat DeMone. "Look how many pictures he's taking of Lyle. This is bullshit! Jesus Christ! He only took pictures of me for a minute."
DeMone shakes his head disgustedly, his gray ponytail jerking with agitation, like a knotted towel caught in a washer cycle.
"This is gonna be another Gold Club thing," he says.
Sitting at an unused second-floor bar at Signatures, the storied strip club he operates at 13th and Locust streets, he rolls his body back in his chair and his eyes back in his head as the horrible reality of it all settles over him.
"It's fine!" he says, straightening abruptly. "It's just ... aggravating."
DeMone may look like a champ tonight in his black silk shirt and snazzy sport coat, but victory for his business remains elusive. His liquor license for Signatures covers only about 1,000 square feet, which holds a large stage and a horseshoe-shaped bar. The joint is often packed with customers, but DeMone knows it could be so much more.
The first floor includes another 3,000 square feet, all done up in hot reds and hanging curtains, gilt trim and moody lighting. A massive hole in the ceiling allows patrons visual access to the second floor, which holds another stage and another bar, along with private dance rooms. In the basement, a restaurant's under construction, its skeleton complete: We're talking carved wood. We're talking marble-topped bar. We're talking broad, regal fireplace.
We're talking a 12,000-square-foot building that reeks of money invested and time spent, all dusted and ready to host a party that never starts.
After years of trying to win approval from the city zoning department and Liquor Control Board to expand his operation, DeMone is now trying to transfer his liquor license to a pair of North Carolina businessmen, Mike Rose and Carl J. Reid, who own a chain of strip clubs.
That's right. DeMone's finished. He wants out. Rose and Reid would take Signatures over. But even that transfer faces opposition. A hearing date with the Liquor Control Board is still pending.
Irritated, pissed, in a freaking snit about the whole goddamn thing, DeMone stands up and walks away from the bar, his gray ponytail swinging forlornly behind him. As he disappears from view, PW 's photographer snaps more pictures of Lyle, as in Lyle Goodman--a squat, smiling native New Yorker who in many ways remains the most important figure in this story.
Lyle Goodman is a consultant for Signatures, the guy whose previous indictment brought the mob into the equation. Lyle Goodman proves just how hard it is for a New York guy--wiseguy or wiseass--to make it in this town.
Morning on 13th Street
Lyle Goodman arrives at the newsstand across the street from Signatures, dressed in a wrinkled polo shirt and shorts that reveal his pale white legs, and announces he needs to make a phone call.
"Maybe it's time," he says into a tiny cell phone. "We go 60-40 and call it a day. You know? I'm just done. I'm finished, and something is better than nothing."
He pauses, listens.
"I'm telling you," he says, "on this other thing, I have an amazing opportunity for you. It's so ridiculous it's ridiculous. We could rent a car, drive to D.C., I'll lay it all out. But let's wait. I don't want to throw more shit into the shit. Know what I mean?"