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Southside nightclub reopens as Zazoo

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by Melissa Wilson

SBJ Staff

First it was the Safari Club. Then, Dub's. Custer's and Graffiti's followed in the '80s, and most recently the nightclub at 1249 E. Battlefield was called Yucatan Beach Club before changing hands again in September.

Zazoo is now the name of the south-Springfield business owned by John Gott and a silent partner. The building itself is owned by Gary Summers, who also owns Cartoons, 1614 S. Glenstone.

Gott, who began his career in the entertainment business with The Rock Shop in the Plaza Shopping Center in the 1970s, also owns a sound and lighting business called SLS Industries, 3119 E. Scenic.

First approached by the original investors to be a consultant for the design and construction of a new Springfield nightclub, Gott later had the opportunity to become a partial owner.

"Several locations were looked at (by the original investors) to build on, and most of them became inadequate due to parking and regulations from shopping centers. They looked at this situation as an advantageous one because it's been a nightclub for many years, and it's in a location where there's no problem with neighbors," Gott said.

After Yucatan closed in July, Gott and his partner took over the building's lease in August and spent four weeks remodeling.

In addition to the cosmetic changes to the building are a new computer-run sound and lighting system and staff changes, although Gott kept two bartenders who were employed by Yucatan.

Keith Brooks, formerly of La Boum and Jamaica's, and Eric Chappell, formerly of Planet Branson, are Zazoo's DJs.

Zazoo also draws bar hoppers in their late-20s and up, while Yucatan drew mainly the college-age crowd.

"We have one 18-and-over night on Thursday nights, which we call 411 Night, where we play modern dance music. Friday nights are our main night; we cater to a little bit of an older crowd with a '70s and '80s retro show," Gott said.

Gott said Friday nights feature live entertainment with retro bands such as Dr. Zhivegas. Saturday nights feature techno and dance music, and Gott said Wednesday nights may begin featuring a local showcase format in January.

Sunday nights will feature a reggae and salsa format, providing Zazoo's application for a Sunday liquor license is approved.

Besides its function as a nightclub, Gott points out that Zazoo is a multipurpose building with an outdoor area and is also connected to Jimmy Delgado's, a martini and cigar lounge.

"We really want to use the facility for other things; we want to have corporate parties and rent it out. For wedding receptions, it's ideal, couldn't be better. Where else can you have a dance floor that large with built-in lighting and sound systems and a DJ on the premises?"

Despite the fact that Springfield's night-life scene is concentrated mainly downtown, Gott sees owning a club on the south side as an advantage.

"I think it's a big advantage to be on the south side of town. A lot of people live on the south side of town and are looking for a place to go where they don't have to drive all the way across town to go out," Gott said.

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