Private Eyes Gentleman’s Club
Note: I attempted to visit this location shortly after Private Eyes closed but was unsuccessful. I returned after it transitioned to Club 55. While this article covers the history of both businesses, my visit and photos are solely of Club 55.
This location began as the Rainbow Inn, located at 3 Niagara Stone Road. The inn was situated at the southernmost point of Highway 55, which meant that tourists on their way to Niagara on the Lake would pass by it. The location was ideal for people on their way north.
Later, the inn closed and a new business opened under the name of Private Eyes, an adult entertainment establishment. Entry to the club, according to one website, was $20 (other people say there was no cover fee), and beer was $5. Is it any wonder why strip clubs are a dying breed? Dancers made $20 per song for customers.
The club was allegedly referred to by the unflattering name of “The Wrinkle Ranch” in reference to the age of the dancers. The strip club had a bare minimum online presence in the form of a Myspace page and Google Sites page.
The club was not without it’s legal difficulties. A drive by shooting occurred at the club in 2004 shortly after last call.
In October of 2007, six young women were charged with prostitution after an undercover sting on October 19th. As a result of the investigation, the owners of the club, a 75-year-old man from St. Catharines and a 61-year-old man from Niagara Falls, turned themselves into police. The owners had been previously warned in letters sent to the owners since August 2006 that if prostitution was occurring and allowed to continue at Private Eyes, the men would be charged with keeping a common bawdy house.
On February 23, 2016, an altercation took place between two dancers. One of the dancers, a 24 year-old woman was stabbed with a knife. Two dancers were charged with aggravated assault. The aggressor in the incident was ordered by the court to pay for the cosmetic surgery that the dancer had to undergo.
With alternative routes to get to Niagara on the Lake, and changing demographics, Private Eyes closed it’s doors on Sunday October 14th, 2018. The owner initially stated that the business was closed “for renovations” despite there being a ‘For Sale’ sign at the front of the business. Private Eyes was put up for sale on MLS for $1.7 million, which included all of the equipment.
Citizens and town officials made it clear they didn’t want another strip club on the property, and one was not likely to be approved.
In April of 2019, Sarah, Will, and Wilmer Neufeld took ownership of the property. They were anticipating opening their new restaurant business by June of the same year. Friends of the Neufelds even dropped by to help clean the property. The business, licenced for 426 people, became fully operational by the fall of 2019.
The Neufeld’s had to upgrade the electrical system and obtain fire code approval.
The new club featured a pool room, a large stage for bands to play and VIP lounges used for birthday or bachelorette parties.
Sundays were karaoke nights with the TD Niagara Jazz Festival band (Peter Shea, Steve Lucas, Dave Norris, and the host, Juliet Dunn).
The upstairs of the business offered three rooms for rental. With the room came a free continental breakfast, a free daily manager’s reception, and a coffee shop or cafe.
The family-owned business received largely favourable reviews on Google. Club 55 also hosted the “Ride to 55” motorcycle rally, with proceeds going to No One Goes Hungry, a charity that provides lunches to students.
While a website link can be found on the outside signage, the business’ website remained offline until 2020 and went offline in 2021.
I don’t know the circumstances that led to the business closing in under four years, but I’d surmise it was due to COVID. Today there are excavators outside, and the property is in the midst of being demolished.
Exploration Photos from April 2023