It was in Latvia, he says, that he perfected the "B-girl" business model. In Riga, [Alec] Simchuk opened his first "striptease bar," the Cleopatra. "It was my dream to have a striptease club, so that's how I opened up," he testified last month.
He decided to open another, Foxy Lounge, then two more, La Rouche and Cabaret Miami.
But the Latvian government did not like the strip-club scene, so authorities shut it down.
From that point on, Simchuk said, he was in the business of deploying bar girls.
"The girls from now on are going to go to the disco bars and pick up the customers, bring them to the club ... and make them buy expensive bottles of Champagne," Simchuk said. He said he also made the prices "high" and the lettering on the menu "very little" so the patrons could not read it. Another trick: His bartenders would pour vodka into customers' beers to make them more drunk.
But by 2008, the Latvian police closed his clubs because so many customers were demanding refunds on their bar bills. An attempt to replicate the clubs in neighboring Estonia fizzled, and he decided to return to the United States.