Why can't Lyle Goodman, a New York kind of guy who hates this friggin' town, put his signature on 13th Street?
DeMone has run a series of clubs at Signatures' Locust Street location, which he's rented from Philadelphia's famous Palumbo family since the '60s. Most recently Signatures was known as All in the Family. He gave the small topless club that name because two sisters danced while their mom tended bar.
"I started small in the adult entertainment business," says DeMone. "Three girls and a jukebox."
Goodman chimes in: "You know how old Pat is? He's been in this business so long he started with a single girl and a monkey that clanged cymbals together. As technology improved he got three girls and a jukebox."
DeMone smiles but tries to stick to the script, explaining he never sought the limelight.
Public scrutiny came along with Goodman, the consultant.
To enlarge his strip club, DeMone first needed the Liquor Control Board's approval to serve alcohol throughout the building. But East of Broad Improvement Association Executive Director Ruthanne Madway challenged the application, and the group's attorneys illuminated numerous financial irregularities along the way.
Court transcripts show that in one hearing DeMone claimed he had sunk $586,000 into building improvements but failed to produce canceled checks indicating where approximately $100,000 of the money came from.
The liquor code demands transparency, including the identity of anyone with a 10 percent or greater financial stake in the operation, so the missing money raised a serious question. DeMone says he's the operation's only investor and that he misspoke when he testified that he'd spent $586,000. He isn't exactly sure how much he spent but says he "learned his lesson" and isn't "going to get into specific figures anymore."
DeMone lost his expansion bid. (He since filed an appeal, which was heard early this year. The parties await a judge's decision.)
Throughout the dispute the indicted Goodman's presence as a consultant provided fodder for Madway's attorneys. His role also got the whole town talking about the mob. The Inquirer's Tom Ferrick feasted on the intrigue more than once in his column. Goodman, in turn, sometimes refers to the newspaperman as "Tom Ferret."
Madway believes she saw Steve Kaplan on 13th Street some time in spring 2001, while the club underwent renovations. And a Philadelphia police officer testified in one hearing that Goodman introduced himself as Signatures' new "owner."
Madway and a private investigator she hired also discovered that Frank Palumbo Jr., the municipal court judge who owns the building that houses Signatures, loaned DeMone $629,300 secured by mortgages for the newsstand and pizzeria. At the time, DeMone owed Palumbo months of back rent on Signatures. (Palumbo didn't return a call to his office requesting comment on Signatures.)
DeMone wants to transfer both his liquor license and all his troubles over to Mike Rose and Carl Reid, the North Carolina men who own a chain of strip clubs. But every time he tries to get out they keep pulling him back in.
East of Broad's lawyer filed an appeal to block the transfer.
In its petition to intervene, the East of Broad Improvement Association claims Rose and Reid's other clubs suffer problems with drugs and crime or liquor code violations. (Reached by telephone, Rose says two of the clubs mentioned in the petition aren't even his.) The petition also promises to reveal that the new ownership group includes a convicted felon.
Goodman believes the felonious rabbit Madway's keeping in her hat is him. "I think it's gonna be me," he says. "She wants to tie me to everything!"
"I Hate This Fuckin' Town"
DeMone and Goodman blame everyone but themselves for their troubles--everyone from the LCB to Ruthanne Madway. Goodman takes it even further, blaming the entire city of Philadelphia. "This place sucks," he says.
He still remains mindful enough of his partners that he often punctuates his tirades against the city with this caveat: "Whenever it comes up that I hate this fucking town, and I can't wait to get away from here, or whatever I say about Ruthanne, I want it to be clear that I am speaking only for myself and that my comments should not reflect upon Pat or Mike Rose or anything they are trying to accomplish."
Election Day 2014: Tues., Nov. 4
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PW's Fall Guide 2014