Scandals Saloon Celebrates It’s 5th Anniversary
Scandals Saloon is one of the most successful bars/clubs in the history of Fort Lauderdale gay nightlife and the most successful country western bar in the state of Florida. As they approach their 5th anniversary I thought I would sit down with the owners Ken Kelley and Lloyd Pagels as well as the managers Howard Merritt (GM) and Craig Cannan and discuss their history and the secrets to their success.
You had owned a printing company up north. How did the idea of owning a bar come into play?
Ken: We had clients in South Florida and we would come down here all the time. Lloyd always wanted to own a bar and on one of his trips down to South Florida he found a bar for sale. The bar was the Petite Bar and Lounge. When he conferred with me as to whether we should buy it I agreed with one condition and that was that we make it a country western bar. There is nothing better as it attracts the best of the best. Cowboys and cowgirls are a truly unique and happy group and they love to party. Besides I was raised a hillbilly.
So when did you purchase Petite Bar and when did it turn into Scandals?
Lloyd: We took title of the bar in August of 2004. It was operated as a small, straight bar for over 43 years by a husband and wife team. Their customer base consisted primarily of blue collar workers. In February of 2005 we closed down Petite and did a complete interior and exterior makeover. In March of 2005 we opened a gay country western bar with a whole new staff and named it Scandals Bar and Lounge.
Ken: In June 2006 we changed the name to Scandals Saloon to more accurately depict the country/western theme.
Ken: We were outgrowing the space we occupied and Lloyd and I began searching for a new larger location. We found a couple locations in Oakland Park but something always held us back from purchasing any of those locations.
Lloyd: After months of searching, we finally found the ideal space in Elements and the owner, Toni Barone, was looking to make a change and we definitely needed a nightclub space.
When did the transition take place?
Ken: We purchased Elements in January of 2007 and began remodeling while keeping both Elements and Scandals Saloon operating. On February 14th, 2007 we closed Scandals Saloon in Oakland Park and opened Scandals Saloon in the old Elements location on February 15th, merging the original Scandals staff with most of the Elements staff.
Were you at all concerned about losing your customer base?
Lloyd: Some of our original customers were saddened that we were moving to such a large bar and they were worried the new Scandals would lose that intimate atmosphere we created in Oakland Park at a much smaller venue. In an effort to make all the customers feel like they were still at their home bar, the atmosphere in the new Scandals was a duplicate of the original Scandals: color scheme, an incredible staff and, most importantly, the same pricing. And as ALWAYS Scandals never imposed a cover charge, and we never will!
Ken: We were and are very thankful that the community that so generously supported us in Oakland Park did not hesitate to make the move with us to Wilton Manors.
How did the Stable come about?
Ken: We leased out the old location of Scandals and it became known as Talk of the Town. When it closed a few months later Lloyd and I decided to open that location as Stable.
Lloyd: The Stable is a brother bar to Scandals Saloon but with an emphasis on Levi & Leather while keeping a neighborhood bar atmosphere. The Stable is doing very well and was awarded the 2009 Sleaziest Theme Night by Rimmer Magazine for our Tuesday Underwear night. The same philosophy at Scandals Saloon exists at the Stable, honor our customers and employ a phenomenal staff.
How is it to work for Lloyd and Ken?
Craig: They are the best guys I have ever worked with. They make us feel like a team and they are generous and fair. They are always thinking of everyone else’s enjoyment over their own.
Howard: I got so lucky as I was in the right place at the right time. There is no comparison between them and anyone else I have ever worked for. They are fair, they always re-invest their money back into the club and they treat us like family.
You have become famous for Bubba’s Country Fair and the Sunshine Stampede Rodeo Weekend, but I also know tyou produce events for or donate to other charities. Can you name a few?
Ken: Yes, we definitely believe in giving back to the community that has made us so successful. The charities we have given to include Broward House, Gay American Heroes, Food Pantry, American Heart Association, Florida Gay Rodeo Association, March of Dimes, South Florida Amateur Athletic Association, Broward County Police Benevolent Association, North Miami Dade PBA, Poverello, AIDS Walk and the Pet Project.
What’s the secret to your success?
Lloyd: We are asked that all the time and there is no secret. We just created an atmosphere based on knowing that every customer who walks in the door honors us by doing so. It is our job and the job of the entire Scandals Saloon family to always appreciate each and every one of those customers. It is also our job to listen to and respect our customer’s suggestions and comments, even when they may not be quite what we had in mind.
Ken: One of the greatest compliments we have ever received was from one of our regular customers who told us, “You know, when I come in here, I feel like I’m sitting in my living room.” My hope is that it will always be that way!
Scandals Saloon, which has become a staple in our community, will be celebrating its 5th anniversary weekend from Friday March 12th through Sunday, March 14th. On Friday they will feature Absolut Hit where they are bringing back their 2005 prices with all Absolut flavors only $3.50; Saturday they present the Cattleman’s Ball and the Absolutly Sexy Cowboy Contest, where the grand prize winner will receive $200 and a basket of Absolut; Sunday they present Absolut Angelic Sunday with the Gospel Jubilee with Lady Fancy and her Absolut Angels.
To Your Health – Dr. Max Zaslavsky
Upon sitting down with Dr. Max Zaslavsky we had an immediate bond, not only because of his inviting smile but because we both received our graduate degrees from the same university, and are also both from Brooklyn, NY. “Dr. Max” is friendly, charming, and easy to talk to, which are three key ingredients that are important when you are looking for a dentist. After chatting about our university days and growing up in the NY area, it was a pleasure to conduct this one on one interview with a dentist that truly cares about his patients.