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Stephen and Karen Williamson are opening Whiskey Tango at the shuttered Parlor 88.
Stephen and Karen Williamson are opening Whiskey Tango at the shuttered Parlor 88.

Whiskey Tango to replace shuttered Parlor 88

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A new lounge is set to open later this summer in a south-side Springfield shopping center previously occupied by Parlor 88, which closed May 30.

Whiskey Tango, owned by Stephen and Karen Williamson, currently has crews inside the building at 1111 E. Republic Road, with a planned opening of Aug. 1. The renovation work for the new business is now in progress following Parlor 88’s closure announcement that was made May 29 on its Facebook page.

Stephen Williamson said he and his wife purchased the assets of the lounge, including tables, chairs and booths for an undisclosed amount. They plan to repurpose what they can, but said the renovation project, including the removal of the giant fireplace that served as the centerpiece of Parlor 88, will be ongoing for weeks.

“We have gutted it. Everything from the bar forward is out,” he said. “It will be unrecognizable as Parlor 88.”

The Republic Road location of Parlor 88 was its original – and the final – of three establishments to close.

The south-side business had been in operation since 2007 near the intersection of Republic Road and National Avenue in the Gallery Eleven shopping center, owned by Gallery Eleven LLC via John Haik.

Two other Parlor 88 locations, one on East Sunshine and another just off the downtown square, closed in early 2014. Originally started by Paul Sundy and Jay Hickman, the business boasted an expansive drink menu and promoted happy hours.

Father and son Kris and Ben Clements bought the Republic Road location for undisclosed terms in October 2016, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. After the purchase, Ben Clements ran the daily operations.

Haik, who also owns Ozark Adventures in Gallery Eleven, said Kris Clements sold the business May 31 to the Williamsons. Kris Clements could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Stephen Williamson said he will serve as owner/operator, with his wife, Karen, as co-owner and to handle Whiskey Tango’s business finances.

“She’s the brains behind the operation. And she’ll be keeping me in line, which in itself is a full-time job,” he said with a laugh.

Referring to the lounge as a “speakeasy meets Miami South Beach,” Williamson said the lounge will feature a menu heavy on appetizers and cocktails.

“It’s not a nightclub. There’s not a dance floor,” he said. He said current plans are to operate 3 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday, with the possibility of bringing in guest DJs for Friday and Saturday nights.

Williamson declined to provide startup costs, but estimated they will be “in excess of several hundred thousand dollars.” He said costs were partially self-financed and through a loan with Legacy Bank & Trust.

The lounge is on a multiyear lease with Gallery Eleven LLC that Williamson said has several options extending up to at least 12 years. He said the lease is a new one from what Parlor 88’s previous lease was with Gallery Eleven, but declined to disclose the cost.


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