LAS VEGAS — The owner of a massage business several blocks off the Las Vegas Strip says she’s losing crucial business because of a city law requiring her to close at 10 p.m.
Dreamz Massage manager Nikki Johnson tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she wants to stay open late to serve hotel night-shift maids, Las Vegas theater crew members and tourists ready to unwind after a long day of sightseeing and partying.
But Johnson and her husband, Brian Johnson say a curfew enacted in December hurts their business more than it thwarts crooked operators running illegal prostitution businesses. Brian Johnson said the law could force the spa out of business.
The couple recently won a temporary business license renewal, but they lost a bid to make an exception to the required closing time.
“If we don’t get an extension, I’ll be closed within a month,” Brian Johnson told City Council members. “The daytime does not pull in what we need to cover. It is barely paying the rent for that space and utilities.”
Mayor Carolyn Goodman said changing the ordinance for the Johnsons would set a precedent for more than 50 other “massage establishment” licensees.
Others councilmembers said Johnson’s business is too close to homes to accommodate late-night hours.
Prostitution is legal in rural Nevada counties, but illegal in the state’s two largest casino cities, Reno and Las Vegas.
Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony, a retired Las Vegas police vice officer, said officials put a lot of time and effort into constructing an ordinance to make sure massage parlors aren’t fronts for prostitution.
“One of the big deals was the hours,” he said. “There is no way that I would extend the hours beyond 10 p.m.”
Bob Coffin, the councilman representing the area where Dreamz operates, said the city doesn’t want to take anybody’s license away.
However, “there is the main question of early morning hours in a business that abuts against neighborhoods in an area where there is a lot of crime in an occupation where there is a temptation to have crime,” Coffin said.
Nikki Johnson’s mother, Siriat Krabuanrat, owns the storefront business in an area near pawn shops, check cashing and short-term loan offices and low-cost apartments. The area also has a tavern open 24 hours a day.
The Johnsons manage the business for Krabuanrat. They say they’re being blamed because a previous owner clashed with the city after police arrested workers on prostitution charges.
Customers told the Review-Journal they found good service at Dreamz.
“They have been nothing but fresh and bright and clean and clear and very, very nonsexual,” said poker player Linda Drucker, 61.
Drucker said she showered away residual casino smoke smells and got a relaxing massage by a professional therapist.
Bartender Julio Berrios, 26, said he appreciated the chance to get a late-night massage after long shifts on his feet.
“Everyone is nice in there, the music, how they take care of you,” he said. “You feel like you are at home. It doesn’t even feel like it is in Vegas when you are in there.”