Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 1, 2013

Risque signs at Big Daddy’s covered up

Club owner Dumoulin is under fire.

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

Kokomo — Detractors have been after strip club owner Dan Dumoulin II’s female silhouettes for well over a decade, decrying the images — similar to the female figures often seen on semi-trailer mud flaps — as demeaning and trashy.

Last week, Dumoulin quietly removed the silhouettes from the signs at his Big Daddy’s and Little Daddy’s strip clubs, and so far hasn’t said why.

“I’m glad that he covered it up,” Cindy Sandersm, city council member, said Friday. “He has the freedom to run that business, but I hope he puts up signage that’s appropriate and not offensive.”

The silhouettes have either been covered with yellow tape or the black portions have been removed from the yellow sign. Either way, all that can be seen is the shape of the silhouettes, yellow on yellow.

Dumoulin had permits for the signs going back some 11 years, and was under no requirement to take them down, Kokomo-Howard County Plan Commission director Greg Sheline said.

The city’s zoning code forbids signs which “contain statements, words or pictures of an obscene, indecent or immoral character, such as will offend public morals or decency.”

But city and planning officials have never used that clause against Dumoulin’s signs, which might have fallen more into the category of “risque” than offensive.

Sheline said he, city attorney Lawrence McCormack and city director of operations Randy McKay met with Dumoulin in the fall, and asked him to take the signs down. That meeting may have been prompted by a citizens petition circulating at the time, which asked that the signs be modified.

The sign removal comes at the same time Dumoulin is seeking a rezoning for one of his properties and is fighting liquor license battles at two others.

He’s trying to get a gravel area next to his west side bar, The Filling Station, rezoned so he can expand parking. That measure was opposed by neighbors last spring, and was voted down at the Kokomo Plan Commission.

Dumoulin will try again to get the property rezoned at the commission meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Kokomo City Hall.

Last week, the Howard County Alcoholic Beverage Board split 2-2 on whether to renew Dumoulin’s liquor license for the Big Daddy’s strip club on North Davis Road.

The split vote sent the renewal petition to the state Alcohol & Tobacco Commission in Indianapolis.

At the local board hearing last week, Dumoulin had to address a state Excise Police “tap switching” violation from October 2011, involving excise allegations that customers at Big Daddy’s ordering Miller Lite and Coors Lite were instead getting Budweiser or Bud Light.

Those allegations, combined with other excise investigations resulting in violations at Dumoulin’s Rock Bottom and Little Daddy’s establishments, have kept Dumoulin in the media and in the crosshairs of his detractors for the past two years.

Before that, Dumoulin was fighting a five-year battle to turn a southside nightclub into a strip club. He briefly lost the liquor license at that establishment, the Ultimate Place 2B, before a court ruling restored his ability to serve alcohol.

Last week the focus was on Big Daddy’s. Remonstrators, who said Dumoulin had failed to maintain a “high and fine” reputation as a bar owner, asked the local board to deny the Big Daddy’s renewal.

Dumoulin is also still fighting to get a permit for a new bar he’s hoping to open along North Davis Road, next door to Big Daddy’s. Last year, the local liquor board and an ATC hearing officer both denied Dumoulin’s permit application. He has appealed the ATC hearing officer’s decision, and that appeal is still pending.

Dumoulin couldn’t be reached for comment last week.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.