by Joel Addington
All the pink is gone. Well, almost.
“To go from Pepto-pink to wooden everything was no easy task,” said Victor Jones, co-owner of Mavericks, The Landing’s new country-western nightclub, which opened Wednesday night and replaced the now defunct Club Paris.
“The only pink that we left is in the ladies room,” he said.
When the swinging saloon doors of Mavericks opened at 6 p.m., the crowd grew quickly as patrons placed drink orders at the open bars and scantly clad ladies passed out finger foods.
The completely remodeled honky tonk themed club was a concept Jones and his partner Darrin Kurtz — the duo also own the upscale Landing nightspot Twisted Martini — thought was missing in Jacksonville.
Everything in the place screams country, down to the saddle seats, shoe shine chairs and stuffed bison head hanging over the stage.
“We had it in our minds,” said Jones of the idea for Mavericks. “We even had the name picked out. When they (Club Paris) went 18 and up, we knew it was doomed. We had an eye on the property and said we’d like the opportunity to do something good with it…When we looked at it, it had a great setup.”
A massive wooden dance floor, which Jones said, “makes a real noise when you stomp on it,” is located at the center. At one end sits the stage where musicians can perform. At the other sits the mechanical bull. Bars line each side.
And that’s just the first floor.
Dual curved staircases lead off either end of the dance floor to an overhead balcony. There, guests on Wednesday night got a birds-eye view of the crowd line dancing to country tunes like Big and Rich’s 2004 hit “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.”
The upstairs is dubbed “Ellie’s Bardello” (a play on the bordellos of the Old West). This area has VIP lounges, two more bars, a DJ booth and restrooms.
“We made it very plush and feminine,” Jones said of Ellie’s. “It’s like a very fancy hotel up there.”
In line with the bordello theme, black and white photos of turn-of-the-century “working girls” line the walls, something patron Wendy Light took a few seconds to admire.
“I love it,” said the Georgia resident. “It looks like the Old West. It’s classy, but not trashy.”
At least one VIP booth also includes a stripper pole.
“We don’t allow stripping, but we want the girls to have a good time,” said Jones, a Jacksonville native.
Light, 44, was one of many middle-aged clubgoers that attended the opening.
“It’s really nice that Jacksonville opened up a club for a little older age group,” she said. “It’s awesome.”
Mavericks held a sneak peak opening after the Dec. 1 ACC Championship game even though all the renovations weren’t yet complete.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the amount of locals that showed up,” said Jones. “I think this place is going to be quite popular.”
To grow a name for the Landing’s newest nightspot, the owners plan to bill Mavericks as a live music venue and bring in national country and rock acts. Recording artist Lila McCann performed Wednesday and country band Crossin Dixon is slated for Saturday.
“If it’s a big country artist, we’re talking to them,” Jones said. “We hope to have at least one country act and one rock act each month.”
Partnerships have also been struck with local radio stations. On Thursdays, FM-104.5 will broadcast from Mavericks and FM-99.9 — better known as Gator Country — will be in the house on Saturdays.
Jones said they are also looking to start a live karaoke night where participants sing with a live band playing behind them.
“We went down to Orlando to see how they do it,” he said.
And while Orlando’s country nightclub scene may be farther along than Jacksonville’s, patron Eric Staples said he’s happy to see that changing.
“They’ve been missing something like this in the region for a long time,” said the St. Augustine resident. “This is class. I’m from out west and this is the way it’s done.”