KEARNEY — After 38 years in business, the Backlot nightclub at 415 Central Ave. will close its doors after Saturday.
The property has been sold and will not reopen as a nightclub.
Bob Stofferson, who has been in the bar business for more than 50 years, said he plans to retire.
Buzz’s Marine, which is next door to the Backlot, has purchased the building. Ryan Wise, vice-president of Buzz’s, said plans are not definite, but that the building probably will be renovated to serve as a second showroom.
The nightclub’s dance floor has been a Kearney hot spot for decades.
“We had bands to start with,” Stofferson said. “Then, we did the disco thing.”
Stofferson said he switched from bands to disc jockeys in 1976. “That’s when the disco era was really getting hot,” he said. “We didn’t survive disco, we thrived on it. We’ve done a lot of different things since then.”
In addition to music and a dance floor, the Backlot also showcased exotic dancers weekdays from 4:30-8:30 p.m.
With the closing of the Backlot, there is no venue that offers topless dancers in Kearney.
“I don’t know what anybody else in town is going to do,” Stofferson said. “I don’t know if they’re going to open another place or not. There’s no law that says we’re the only ones who can have dancers. If somebody else wants to, that’s up to them.”
Stofferson came to Kearney in 1965 to run the Club Continental at the Holiday Inn, now the Ramada Inn, before building the Backlot. He said he’s seen a lot of changes in popular music and watched as generations of young people came and went.
“I’ve even had people who’ve worked here whose parents worked here,” he said. “When you think about how many years that is, it’s easy to happen.”
Stofferson and his business partner, Greg Johnson of Vail, Colo., said in a press release that they thank all of the past and present Backlot employees and customers.
Stofferson said the club’s last night should be busy. “There is a lot of the old staff, and loyal customers, who are coming in Saturday,” he said.