New business Gems is right next to Bikini Coffee kiosk

Hillsboro officials are reviewing their options as they face the proposed opening of the first adult strip club within the city limits. The city’s options may be limited, however, because Oregon voters have repeatedly defeated state constitutional amendments to allow cities to regulate adult entertainment.

The Cooler Club, located at 1735 S.E. Tualatin Valley Highway, used to be a bar, but it is soon expected to became a strip club named “Gems.” by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - City officials say the Cooler Club, located at 1735 S.E. TV Highway, is likely to soon become Hillsboros first adult entertainment business.

The sign along the highway now advertises Gems and reads, “Come meet Jennifer.”

Owner Frank Hurliman said he has a schedule in mind for the opening of Gems, but would not disclose the timing.

One of the nearby businesses is called “The Gym-Nest.” It is a gymnastics and cheerleading school primarily for children, offering instruction in recreational and competitive gymnastics and cheerleading to children ages 3 to 18. The business also hosts birthday parties, including a “No Worries” party that includes all supplies and activities.

Gym-Nest owner Kirsten Gackowski declined to comment on the proposed strip club, because the landlord is the same for her business as it is for Gems.

Hillsboro’s public affairs manager, Patrick Preston, said city staff began reviewing the city’s options after word of the planned change began spreading.

Hillsboro Police Department spokesman Lt. Mike Rouches said no one can remember an adult entertainment business inside Hillsboro’s city limits over the past 25 years.

“Some people think there may have been one before then, but they can’t remember where it was,” said Rouches.

There are no state laws banning businesses that offer adult entertainment. Those that serve alcohol must comply with Oregon Liquor Control Commission rules, but can offer nude dancing under free speech provisions of the Oregon Constitution.

“If a business is legal, we have to respect that,” Rouches pointed out.

According to Rouches, Hillsboro police will likely consult with their counterparts in cities with similar businesses to learn if these clubs present any special problems, and, if so, what to do about them.

“We’ll probably talk to the police in Beaverton, because they have some of those businesses and it’s about the same size as Hillsboro,” Rouches said.

The situation is somewhat similar to Forest Grove, where many residents are upset about the opening of Dream Girl Espresso, a coffee stand featuring scantily-clad young female employees. Many critics blasted the business during an emotional hearing before the Forest Grove City Council Monday evening, but the city attorney informed those in the audience there’s nothing the council can do to regulate a legal business.

Hillsboro has its own bikini barista stand. Bikini Coffee is located next door to The Cooler Club, and is owned by the same company that opened Dream Girl Espresso in Forest Grove last month.

Unlike some strips clubs in other cities, The Cooler Club is not located near any schools or residential areas. One neighboring businesses is an auto lot.

The Cooler Club once was the scene of frequent police calls, Rouches said, but not any more.

“There used to be fights there that the police had to respond to, but that was in the past. It’s not been on our radar in recent years,” said Rouches.

Online reviews suggest the tavern has varied its entertainment over the years to attract new customers. Reviewers mentioned karaoke, hip-hop shows and Mexican bands as popular draws over the past few years.

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