Cheerleaders Gentlemen’s Club is a five-time winner of City Paper’s annual Best Of readers’ poll, but as you’ll see on its homepage, calling it a "strip club doesn't even come close to defining [it.]"
This Strip District restaurant/gentlemen's club has established itself as a premier spot for Pittsburghers to party. The Christmas bash, annually in the second week of December, is as much a part of the local holiday scene as Light Up Night. With up to four major parties throughout a calendar year, Cheerleaders seems to always have something big going on; if not a themed celebration, the attraction might be, say, Busta Rhymes.
“Him, T.I., Ja Rule — we’ve brought in some major recording acts,” general manager Richie Owens says. “We do things on a grand scale.”
Cheerleaders doesn’t operate like other strip clubs, which is probably why Pittsburghers don’t always think of it as one. First-time visitors are as likely to find a patron watching a UFC event or a Pirates game — or swapping stories with friends over a round of cocktails or dinner (try the North Atlantic salmon) — as they are seeing somebody solely focused on women taking off clothes. The place is as much a sports bar or a night club as it is a strip club.
In fact, Cheerleaders is designed not to push customers toward feeling as though they must be near the stages.
“We want people to engage the entertainers. We want them to tip the entertainers,” Owens says. “But it’s a big thing for us to have people know they can sit back, have a meal, and enjoy themselves.”
Makes sense. People don’t hit up strip joints to have a bad time.
Still, shouldn’t the Cheerleaders experience be a lot about the girls, even if the wings are great, the parties are awesome, and the occasional hip-hop star is working the room?
“The girls?” Owens says, laughing. “One of the biggest compliments I get is … we get a lot of out-of-towners, and they say, ‘You guys have the hottest girls.’ Always!”
So, yeah, it’s the girls. It’s just that there is a lot more to Cheerleaders, too.