TYNGSBORO -- A former strip-club owner's controversial request for an entertainment license at Duke's Pub and Grille to allow performers dressed in bikinis and speedos to dance in-house passed 3 to 2 before the Board of Selectmen Monday night.

Selectmen reviewed Duke's owner Don DiRocco's request earlier this month and asked more questions Monday night at a public hearing. Duke's is located on Frost Road and DiRocco previously told the board he was looking for approval of the license to boost business.

After grilling DiRocco for more than a half-hour Monday night, Chairwoman Karyn Puleo said she did not receive enough information from DiRocco to vote in favor of the license. When Puleo asked how many dancers would be on the premises, DiRocco said he was not sure and "did not have a format" at this time. Officials also pressed DiRocco on security measures and the club owner assured them anyone "misbehaving" would be escorted out.

Puleo and Selectmen Vice Chairman Bob Jackson voted against the license, while Selectmen Allen Curseaden, Corliss Lambert and Rick Reault supported the agreement.

DiRocco thanked the board following the vote and said after nearly 45 years operating a business in town, they "knew" he would abide by the rules.

DiRocco, a 77-year-old Bedford, N.H., resident, previously operated the strip club Matthew's on Middlesex Road and has leased the space at 147 Frost Road where Duke's is located for the last 45 years.


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Matthew's closed after a costly legal battle from 1994 to 2003 in which DiRocco sued the town twice over freedom of expression for not allowing nude dancing in the Middlesex Road commercial zone, close to Skate 3 arena. While the matter was litigated, he still allowed dancing on the premises there.

The suit was ultimately dismissed by a state judge and the club closed. The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear DiRocco's case.

Lambert told DiRocco he hoped the manager would keep up his end of the deal following the vote Monday.

Police Chief Richard Howe attended the meeting and said according to town and state laws, DiRocco would have to work with the town to keep order on site. Howe also noted Duke's so far has had no complaints "other than what (he) would expect" with a few noise complaints, a fight in progress and a reported larceny.

One abutter to the property -- Joe Clark -- voiced his outrage during the public hearing of the license, which was requested formally through DiRocco's company "Double D, Inc." Clark asked selectmen if they considered whether this was "just another ruse" by DiRocco, referencing the man's tense history with the town.

Puleo and Town Counsel Charles Zaroulis assured Clark the club owner had indicated he would be following all laws with no full nudity at the club. Clark concluded by saying allowing this license would hurt the character of the town and he was worried.

"It's just embarrassing," he added, before walking out.

Follow Samantha Allen on Twitter and Tout @SAllen_89.