Hot Springs restaurant reopens as adult cabaret |

Hot Springs restaurant reopens as adult cabaret

Jill Lufrano

The “best chicken breasts in the West” have been replaced with the real deal in Carson City.

Joe Bob’s Roadhouse at Carson Hot Springs resort reopened Thursday as JB The Cabaret, the city’s only establishment to feature topless dancers.

“It’s going to be a high-energy and fun place to come,” said owner Brad Herndon. “A lot of people we talked to say it’s a drag to have to go all the way to Reno to visit a gentlemen’s club, especially with drunk-driving enforcement and all that.”

Herndon stopped short of describing the club’s entertainment, only saying he would rather let people find out for themselves. On opening night, dancers played on brass poles dressed in bathing suits or revealing evening attire, but were sometimes attired in just thongs and breast pasties.

City officials aren’t certain if the dancing offered by the cabaret will be legal at the location. Nudity is not allowed in the area, according to city zoning codes. Herndon already has a cabaret license.

The Reno businessman kept his plans quiet as workers redecorated the restaurant the past few months. The Roadhouse closed in March after it struggled to keep customers when one end of Hot Springs Road was closed.

“With what the freeway project did to us, we were just no longer a viable location for a bar and grill,” Herndon said. “It limited what our options were.”

Herndon first tried to find a church to take over the building, but city zoning didn’t allow it. He then marketed it in several ways before settling on the gentlemen’s club. Herndon’s company, held in partnership with his father, Don Herndon, also owns two traditional taverns in Reno and one in Sparks.

Brad Herndon applied for a name change for the business license, but didn’t seek a building permit for the minor redecorating, and a health inspection was not performed.

Workers at the Hot Springs pool heard the cabaret would feature bikini dancers. City planning officials said the rules would allow bikinis, as long as they fully covered the dancer.

Resort manager James Shellhamer, on vacation in Alaska this week, said he heard Herndon was going to try something new, but hoped it wasn’t a topless bar at the family-oriented resort.

“I really don’t know what he’s doing,” Shellhamer said.

The Roadhouse restaurant opened nearly four years ago with a full-service bar, a restaurant and live weekend entertainment. Joe Bob’s received unexpected fame in November 2001 when a billboard in Washoe Valley showed a topless chicken with enhanced breasts (the restaurant’s mascot) promoting the Carson City location.

The cabaret, 1510 Hot Springs Road, will be open from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and open for lunch after Labor Day. In a few weeks, a full-service restaurant will be offered. The establishment also offers pool tables and gaming.

Businesses that feature nudity are allowed in Carson City, but only in a small area east of Deer Run Road. In the 1980s, an adult cinema called Cinema Blue opened in an industrial area. It lasted two months while a number of protests and complaints rolled in, said Community Development Director Walt Sullivan.

A topless bar at the Hot Springs location would need a code amendment before being allowed to operate, said Principal Planner Lee Plemel. Also, adult entertainment can’t be located within 1,000 feet of a park, church, school, residential district or any other adult entertainment facility.

Contact Jill Lufrano at or 881-1217.