To get women to come into Wilde’s Chateau 24 on Thursday nights, owner Dave Boutler places one of his best-looking male bartenders at the door with a tray of chocolates.
He also offers two-for-one martinis and a free cover charge for the ladies.
“It’s all about the girls,” Boutler says.
Ladies’ Night started shortly after the bar opened last January at 2412 Iowa. While the special stopped over the summer, once students returned to Kansas University, so did Ladies’ Night.
Sandwiched between Pride Night on Wednesdays and the Retro Dance Party on the weekend, Ladies’ Night is a marketing ploy that works.
Wearing a black dress and tan cowboy boots, KU senior Liz Schulte says the dance club’s Ladies’ Nights were a regular for her and her friends last semester.
“I always like getting in free,” says Schulte, who was one of a handful of women at Wilde’s Chateau on a Thursday night a few weeks ago.
But Ladies’ Night specials can only go so far. Under Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations, drink specials must be offered all day and to everyone. So that prohibits bars from selling half-off drinks or giving free beer only to women.
But that doesn’t stop several local bars from giving preferential treatment to the fairer sex. Mainly it’s through reduced cover charges.
At The Barrel House — a dueling piano bar at 729 N.H. that is already a female-friendly venue — women get in free on Thursdays. Men pay a $3 cover charge.
“Ladies love to get dressed up and come here. So it gives them more incentive to come in the door. And the guys follow,” owner Alex Akers says.
On a slow Thursday evening earlier this month, a trio of girls said the Ladies’ Night special was an “extra bonus.”
“It should be every night,” says Adrienne Kostecki, who was celebrating her 30th birthday.
Friend Starla Simmons-Fawcett says she felt bad for her brother Tyson, as the token man who had to pay.
“That is discrimination,” she says. “Not really, but I would rather we all get in for free.”
Wilde’s Chateau and The Barrel House are among the newest spots on Lawrence night scene that offer vastly different experiences than their previous tenants.
With its indoor water fountain and walls decorated with staff art work, Wilde’s Chateau is far removed from the former bar and grill known as Molly McGee’s.
Offering a Ladies’ Night was one way to bring people through the doors without offering drink specials so cheap they translate to “come and get drunk,” nights, Boulter says.
The Barrel House opened in the controversy-and-crime-ridden spot of Last Call. On most nights, the dueling piano bar draws a crowd that mixes college students, young professionals and groups of girls looking to celebrate birthdays and bachelorette parties.
The two aren’t the only bars offering Ladies’ Night specials on Thursday. While the cover isn’t free for the Neon Dance Party at the Jackpot Music Hall, it is reduced for females.
Liz Stuewe, a KU senior, says she knows it’s all a marketing tactic.
But it hasn’t stopped her from being a fan of the dance party for five years.
“It’s good dancing, good people,” she says.