An antique business is operating out of the former Beef Baron strip club at 624 York St. The London bar has been shuttered since September after the province ordered all strip clubs to close as part of a raft of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. DALE CARRUTHERS / THE LONDON FREE PRESS

It used to be a place to buy lap dances and shots.

Now, customers come for the selection of vintage vases, rustic chairs and live-edge tables.

A shuttered London strip club has been reborn as a weekend antique market.

The Beef Baron was forced to close its door in September after the province ordered all strip joints shut down indefinitely as part of a raft of new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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The York Street establishment – one of just two strip clubs operating in London at the time – erected a sign vowing to reopen and taking a shot at The London Free Press for reporting on its closure.

Now, new signage for Unique Junque Antiques has appeared at the former bar, where customers can shop on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

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A man who answered the phone number listed on the Unique Junque Antiques Facebook page hung up on a reporter.

Photos on the Facebook page show the former strip club packed with tables, chairs, stools, cash registers, shelves, signs and other items for sale.

A city spokesperson said the shuttered strip club isn’t breaking any bylaws.

“The use of this property for second hand sales meets municipal zoning and licensing regulations,” spokesperson Monica Guzy said in an emailed statement.

News of the Beef Baron’s recent transformation sparked chatter on Reddit, a popular news aggregation and discussion forum.

“Are they selling the furniture from inside the club?” one user asked

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“Sounds like the perfect place to see some old chests,” another user says.

The Beef Baron is operated by Vincent Barletta, the brother of alleged Hells Angels member Robert Barletta, who managed the bar in the 1990s before opening his own strip club, Famous Flesh Gordon’s.

The York Street club, located just around the corner from St. Marys elementary school, has been the scene of several high-profile crimes in the past, including the 1998 fatal shooting of two high-ranking Outlaws motorcycle club members.

Most recently, a suspicious blaze on Aug. 16 gutted a nearby home where dancers at the club stayed. The fire remains under investigation.

Ontario’s closure of strip clubs has triggered a legal response from an advocacy group, Work Safe Twerk Safe, who claims the move unfairly targets exotic dancers.

The group filed an application for judicial review last month, arguing that the measure impacts strippers’ charter rights to freedom of expression and association in a safe environment and their right to work freely in their chosen environment.

The group also claims there’s no legal or jurisdictional basis for the province to close strip clubs, which are regulated by municipalities and subject to federal laws, alleging the move was politically motivated.

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