LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After being labeled a nuisance business by their neighbors, the owners of The Player's Club are speaking out to challenge the narrative.
Taz and Knowledgee took over ownership of the business at 987 Winchester Rd. six weeks ago, and renamed it The Player's Club.
When two people were shot in a parking Saturday night, the community largely blamed the strip club right across the street.
"Everybody's associating the shooting that happened last weekend with this place when in all actuality that happened over 1,000 feet away," said Knowledgee.
Owner Taz says he understands why the community is frustrated but wants them to know they're working to change the issues.
"I understand where you're coming from. I understand the bad name that's here. I understand the crowd that we bring," said Taz. "I also feel like we're being penalized because of what was here before us."
He's talking about the fact that there's been a club there on Winchester road for years. The name and owners have changed several times, each after a string of violence nearby.
"I can remember this club being like a club when I was a teenager," said Knowledgee. "I've been to Lexington my whole life and the club here has never had longevity."
There were five shootings within the 900 block of Winchester road in 2019, three in 2020, and three in 2021.
The owners believe the root problem is bigger than just their business, which is why they're pleading for police help to patrol parking lots.
"If you guys care about black-on-black violence, which is what is happening right now, which is what people get less time for any other crimes when it comes to a black person killing another black person in the judicial system. Please come patrol the parking lots. Help us," said Knowledgee.
Taz says he bought the place because he wanted the community to have a safe space to have fun. He knows that mission will be a journey, not a sprint.
"We want the community to support us. We want the community to feel safe. We want people that come in to feel safe. We want people to feel like hey, you know what, they're trying to make a change."
Since the incident, the club has increased security to include patrolling nearby parking lots. They already operated under a triple security check to get inside.
Taz says their "No Smoke Sundays" is all about providing a platform for upcoming artists in the community to showcase their talents. They're hoping the community will give them the chance to turn things around.
LEX 18 reached out to the Lexington Police for this story.
“The Lexington Police Department does not provide security for independent establishments. We routinely provide extra patrols for areas that may develop into ‘hot spots’ or where requested. The Winchester Road area is no exception. Extra patrols are not permanent security, they require officers to document their check of the affected area and to observe for the indicated criminal behavior. On several occasions officers were in the area and were able to respond quickly.We strongly encourage establishments to seek their own private security which may include those properties that are nearby and utilized by their patrons. Examples include electronic surveillance and additional outside parking lot security. The Lexington Police Department is more than happy to review security measures and offer any guidance should these establishments request this.”