Khalil Nasrallah doesn’t return calls, at least not lately.
Nasrallah owns Ralph’s Place, which claims to be the last stripper bar in Halifax. And that’s only temporary, because during the recent Christmas and New Year’s holiday period, he let it be known that Ralph’s Place would be closing by the end of next week.
The details behind the decision have been left unexplained, as have what the Nasrallahs plan to do with the bar’s location, which coincidentally is in a small strip mall off Main Street in Dartmouth.
Ralph Nasrallah, Khalil’s father, owns the strip mall at 132 Main St., which could even be redeveloped as a seven-storey building according to the development rules established for the Main Street area.
It isn’t much of a stretch, however, to figure out that Ralph’s Place, like any other business, would be shutting its doors because the owner believes he could make more of a return if he invested his money doing something else.
Although the father, Ralph, did answer my phone call a couple of times over the last few days, the conversation wasn’t any more enlightening about what is going on behind the scenes, as Ralph refused to talk and instead designated Khalil to speak about the future of the bar.
A 2014 feature in the alternative publication, The Coast, indicated Ralph’s Place was founded in the late 1980s but wasn’t always a strip club. Initially it was a ’60s-oriented music bar, which was eventually converted to acountry and western bar, but the doors eventually closed on those establishments because they didn’t make money.
It eventually it became Ralph’s Place in 1992, after the elder Nasrallah identified a stripper bar as having a better chance at producing a profit.Halifax councillor for District 6, Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East, Tony Mancini saidThursday he’s not making
any judgment on the type of bar Ralph’s is, but it might be better for the Main Street community if the business relocated elsewhere because the community is attempting to make significant improvements to the area.
The councillor admitted he hasn’t spoken to the owner of the bar so he doesn’t know the reason for the closing, but Mancini said it is unfortunate because it appears as if some people will be losing jobs.
Graziella Grbac, executive director of the Main Street Community Improvement District, commonly referred to as the Village on Main, said in a phone interview Thursday the city has been supporting the redevelopment of Main Street by making it a special zone since 2013.
All the zoning has been put in place, waiting for developers to come up with a plan for their properties in the Main Street area, Grbac said.
Because all the new zoning is in place and designed for accelerated growth, she said, a building permit could be obtained within a matter of months and properties could be redeveloped within a year — much faster than any other area in the city.
The strip mall where Ralph’s is located, for example, could be redeveloped into a seven-storey building, she said.
Existing properties and businesses in the Main Street district have been grandfathered, so they are exempt from the new zoning rules, Grbac said. That makes it possible another strip club could take over the Ralph’s location and continue on with the business if nothing is done to change the property, such as expansion or tearing it down to rebuild.
Although she isn’t opposed to Ralph’s business, Grbac said the new zoning rules are also designed to transform the area and therefore won’t allow for adult entertainment, pawn shops or even storage to populate the area.
“Any step towards change, like Ralph’s leaving,is a step towards the
possibility for the transformation that we’re undergoing,” she said.
Grbac said she’s heard an unconfirmed rumour that there was already an application in with the city for the development of a gas station and a convenience store on the site of the strip mall. But it may be difficult to do that because the new zoning rules prevent a gas station from going in that location unless the gas pumps are not visible from the street.