Rascals and Caddy’s have been sold, and Coconut’s Beach & Safari Club is changing hands, as prominent Louisville nightclub owner Mark Suna decides “what to do with the next half of my life.”
Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.
Suna, a 38-year-old teetotaler who had been a fixture among area night owls for about 15 years (Lone Star Saloon, Sophie’s, Jock Stop), said he’s burned out and tired of fighting a shift in public opinion against alcohol consumption.
“There’s been a definite downswing in consumption,” he said. “Liquor has become taboo. Some people equate a bar owner with a drug dealer. It’s gone haywire.”
What eventually became Suna’s burden is what the clubs’ new owners describe as a “great business opportunity.”
Bruce Hicks, manager and co-owner of Rascals in the Watterson Towers on Bishop Lane, said: “This is an established business, a sound investment. It is centrally located (near Watterson Expressway’s intersection with Bardstown Road). I fell in love with this place.”
Suna founded Rascals nine years ago on the site of the former Peter Outlaw’s nightclub.
In a business where nightclubs come and go, Hicks said, Rascals has been a mainstay. “It’s sort of a landmark in the business.”
Hicks and business partner Michael Antonelli recently acquired the business. They jointly own John’s Liquors at 13th and Hill streets.
Hicks said Elaine Nunn of V.R. Business Brokers of Louisville put the nightclub deal together for the partners.
Antonelli is also owner of Mike’s Village Cleaners in the Village Square Shopping Center, Middletown.
Hicks said a lunch menu is being added at Rascals to attract workers in the Watterson and nearby office towers. A happy hour, with free buffet, is held 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Recorded top 40 and rhythm-and-blues music is played by request.
Meanwhile, Charles “Bud” Nichols and the Woodcox family of Louisville acquired Caddy’s, which is located at Old Shepherdsville and Poplar Level roads.
They will start managing Coconut’s, 3027 Hunsinger Lane, on Feb. 1, with an option to buy the business, Nichols said. Coconut’s was formerly known as Boomer’s Club Cafe & Deli, which Suna launched in 1989.
Caddy’s, which Suna founded as Mardi Gras in 1986, is located on a five-acre tract with plenty of room for a miniature golf course and volleyball courts that are proposed there within the next year, said Paul Woodcox.
Woodcox said the recent onset of a recession doesn’t bother him in the least.
“People who aren’t spending their money on big-ticket items will spend (modestly) at the bars,” he said. “The best time for the bar business is a recession.”
Nichols said outdoor-benefit concerts are planned this year at Caddy’s. Inside, there is a pub and a larger room that houses a nightclub. Total seating is 300.
The Woodcox family’s principal business is Jericho Painting & Special Coating Co. of Louisville. It is the holding company for Caddy’s.
Nichols has a minority interest in the nightclub.
Woodcox said live entertainment, mostly bands, are planned for Caddy’s and Coconut’s.
“That will be our knockout punch,” he said.
As for Suna, he will remain as a business consultant to Nichols and the Woodcox family. For the long term, he said, he is eyeing the possibility of starting a recycling business. “Paper, plastics, manure, things like that.”
He does not believe he will return to the nightclub business–as he did a decade ago after a hiatus of several months.
He also may launch a new career as an agent, representing an unusual breed of client: The eleven parrots that live with him.
The self-described “Bird Man of Louisville,” he’s training the birds to ride little bicycles, and he donates their talents for outings sponsored by the Dream Factory, an organization that grants the wishes of critically ill children.
“I’d also like to lease out the birds for Broadway shows,” he said.
But he’s in no hurry about switching careers.
“I just want to take it easy for a while,” he said.