If you drove I-95 to Florida in the 90s or 2000s, you could hardly miss the plethora of billboards with the come-on We Bare All dotted up and down the highway. Darien's Cafe Risque may not have out advertised Dillon's South of the Border, but you'd have to be driving in your sleep to be unaware of it -- until recently, that is.
Having not noticed the billboards lately, I decided to check into what had happened to the place on my drive back to Columbia last week.
The building is at Georgia exit 49 off of I-95 (Georgia Highway 251) on the other side of the Interstate from an outlet mall, and like many roadside attractions turns out to be much smaller than you might expect from the massive billboard campaign.
I really arrived too late in the evening to take good pictures, but these flash and longer exposures turned out well enough to show the current state of the place. Interestingly, after a month of being around marsh and woods, this parking lot was the only place I had a real mosquito problem -- the moment I got out of the car, they descended on me en-masse and I was scared I might pass out from blood loss getting these shots :-)
This Florida Times Union (Jacksonville) article tells the story of the end of Cafe Risque, and its beginning. Apparently the owner hoodwinked the town into approving a cafe on the site, and didn't mention the mealtime entertainment he planned to provide, and since there was no alcohol involved, there was little the town could do about it. (The article headline implies the town eventually shut it down, but the text makes clear it was lack of business).
As far as I could tell from I-75 signage, a sister Cafe Risque is still in operation in Micanopy Florida, just below Gainesville.
UPDATE 19 August 2012 -- Well, I finally got back by this place during the daylight and got some better pix. Judging by the signs, the interior has gone to black mold and so whoever ends up buying the lot will probably have to knock the building down. Also notice the warning of booby traps (somewhat ironic, I guess :-) on the shed out behind the main building. It seems looters have been a problem.
The lot also hosted another defunct business, a NASCAR memorabilia store called Victory Lane:
I also had the opportunity to drive I-75 recently and can confirm that the Cafe Risque there (in Micanopy) is still in business, and still heavily advertising through roadside billboards. These billboards are very similar to what I remember the Darian location using:
The Micanopy location looks like it may have been a Stuckey's once from this side:
The front side here does have the placards with glamor headshots just like the Darian location. However there were some surly looking guys standing around, and I decided that being seen taking pictures would be a bad idea. (And I wouldn't take identifiable pictures of folks going into a strip club anyway).