LINCOLN PARK — Flirty Girl Fitness soon will be the host of bachelorette parties and social gatherings in its sleek and spacious Lincoln Park location now that the business has obtained a liquor license despite some neighborhood opposition.
The fitness studio, which features a bar in the main lobby area and doubles as an event space, is known for its stripper pole-based workouts and has been fighting for the license since opening at 2215 N. Halsted St. in October.
While the owners have argued the bachelorette parties and other social gatherings, such as a "Hottest Singles" party Thursday night, won't be a nuisance to the neighborhood, opposition from neighbors, including a former alderman, has been fierce.
"Our business model depends on it," said Kerry Knee, co-owner of Flirty Girl, which has a West Loop location and a third in Toronto. "Bachelorette parties are a big part of what we do."
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) has stood behind Flirty Girl's push for a liquor license and a public place of amusement license to allow for DJs at the spot, and she's supported rezoning for the building in front of the City Council in January.
"I think a lot of people don't understand our business," Knee said. "Really, our clientele are the women of Lincoln Park, very upscale women."
The first type of event neighbors fought to prevent on Thursday night is billed as Chicago's hottest singles party, and although the business just received the liquor license Friday, the coed party was selling tickets weeks in advance.
Neighbors in opposition of Flirty Girl, including former 43rd Ward Ald. Charles Bernardini, questioned why Smith ignored their concerns but listened to those of neighbors who opposed the Wild Hare reggae bar's quest for a license to host live music.
"Why she pushed so hard for [Flirty Girl] is a mystery, and then on the other hand you have the Wild Hare and her position," said Edward Burnes, a neighborhood organizer who had previously worked with Smith on the Lincoln Park Hospital development plans. "There you have a neighborhood who says they are opposed to this live music club, and then she apparently listens for whatever reason."
Smith has argued that the two businesses are completely different, and Flirty Girl has agreed to a limit of three events a month that would extend past midnight on weekends, and 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.
Proponents of Flirty Girl, including the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, have argued that the business has a proven track record with police and nearby restaurants at the West Loop location, 1325 W. Randolph.
"Just to assume that they were going to be a problem isn't right," said Padraic Swanton, the chamber's marketing director.
In the coming months, Flirty Girl plans to host upscale after-work functions, including charity and networking events with groups such as Chicago Sport and Social Club and the Junior League of Chicago.
"The alderman is outstanding. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have this license," Knee said. "I think she really understands the balance you need to have with residents and the businesses in the neighborhood."