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Cafe Risque / Victory Lane, I-95 Darien Georgia: 1 April 2009   10 comments

Posted at 10:02 pm in nightclub,out-of-area,restaurants

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:

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The Micanopy location looks like it may have been a Stuckey's once from this side:

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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).

Photoset:

Photoset 4 August 2012

Written by ted on August 25th, 2011

Tagged with , , , ,

10 Responses to 'Cafe Risque / Victory Lane, I-95 Darien Georgia: 1 April 2009'

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  1. Never went to Cafe Risque (thankfully!), but I sure remember the signs for it, and Exit 49 in particular. During my many commutes between Columbia and Fort Lauderdale a decade or so back, Exit 49 meant stopping at that Chevron/Stuckey's for fuel and something to drink. Last time I passed by Exit 49 -- it's gotta be two years, at least -- I hardly recognized the place, with all the development that's gone on there, the Ford dealership next door, and all that.

    Alaska Jill

    26 Aug 11 at 11:24 am

  2. I used to drive between Birmingham and Orlando a lot back ten years ago or so. I never had an urge to heed the many (many, many) billboards for fear the entertainers would all resemble my eight-grade science teacher, but they were still a welcome landmark on that long drive.

    Jason

    26 Aug 11 at 5:12 pm

  3. I believe there is also a Cafe Risque off I-95 in North Carolina before it intersects with I-40. It seems to have the same color scheme, so it might also be connected with the others.

    Duane

    10 Sep 11 at 10:45 am

  4. There used to be a Cafe Erotica on I-75 in GA at the exit for Warner Robins/247C. Jerry Springer even televised a show from there back in 1995. I wonder if it is still open.

    tonkatoy

    12 Sep 11 at 6:31 am

  5. There was also a Cafe Erotica in the St. Augustine, FL, area at one time. I had just assumed that they were somehow affiliated with the Cafe Risque, but maybe they were just copying the business. . . "models?"

    badger

    12 Sep 11 at 7:05 am

  6. I live in a town called Brunswick off I-95 in Georgia and as a little kid I used to see the billboards for this place all the time

    needless to say living in this part of Georgia I was raised a Christian and as a kid I used to always imagine what kind of mind blowing, sleazy debauchery must be going on in there, do the ladies serve food completely naked? (and what would happen if you got a pube in your mashed potatoes?) or do they just dance naked?

    I'm a bit sad to hear it's closed, since I'm now 22 I would probably visit it just for shits and giggles, who knows, maybe it would have resulted in Porky's style hi-jinks.....or maybe I would have just seen a few naked redneck chicks, blech

    did anyone ever get the chance to actually go inside when it was open? were the women as rednecky as I imagine?

    there is still a strip-club downtown though

    Griff

    30 Sep 11 at 3:38 am

  7. The Micanopy, FL location near Gainesville, FL is still open as of late 2011. We checked out the place when driving on -75.

    The billboards and unique business model (i.e. strippers and food in the same location) are unique.

    It's amazing that an area of the country with so many prudish Bible-thumpers would come up with such a cool idea.

    Joe

    28 Jan 12 at 11:14 am

  8. I remember when the Cafe opened in Darien. We nick named it "The Tits and Grits". I only went in one time and the food was bad and I knew all the girls that were dancing. It was comical to say the least...

    Paul

    7 Jan 13 at 5:42 pm

  9. I worked at the Café Risqué in Micanopy in 1990-1991. I had fun, met a lot if nice and interesting people. But, it was a lot cleaner back then than it looks now.

    Blinky

    9 Jul 14 at 10:06 am

  10. I use to work at the Cafe, and let me tell everyone something from our side, I freaking LOVED it. I can remember the billboards as a child, and never paid much attention to them, they were as natural as the rest of Darien. My grandmother lived in the small town. So big whoop, Cry about how the establishment came about, Ye Holy folks of .... Darien. But truth be told, I've danced at more than just the Cafe Risque, but it was the best club I ever worked. The girls all got along and were nice and friendly, to each other, and to customers. Which made a terrific atmosphere. Very talented beautiful ladies. And yeah, there was money rolling in and out that lil club. I mean, what a fabulous idea, a club for the truckers, or any the riders of the interstate, take a shower, have a bite to eat, park your rig and sleep, etc. There was no alcohol , and that made a big difference compared to most clubs. The Cafe Risque was the only thing that little shit town had going for it, without it there, I have no reason to ever go back to Darien,. Idiots.

    Miya

    11 Nov 14 at 2:50 am

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