Butte gentlemen’s club to reinvent itself

It’s the end of a 25-year run for Sagebrush Sam’s Gentlemen’s Club in Rocker.

The adult entertainment establishment that has featured exotic dancers since 1999 closed its doors on Tuesday, but those doors won’t be closed for long. The business will reopen sometime this summer as the Silver Bow Event Center and moving forward, its owner, Rick Joseph Jr., has plenty of plans in the works.


Rick Joseph Jr., owner of Sagebrush Sam’s, stands for a portrait in the offices of The Montana Standard on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Butte.

JOSEPH SCHELLER, The Montana Standard

Joseph said the decision to close the gentlemen’s club was not made lightly. Although updating the business had been discussed for months, nothing had been formalized. The news that the club’s insurance premiums were going to triple on June 1 prompted the change sooner rather than later.

According to Joseph, there is only one insurance company that covers smaller gentlemen’s clubs and the costs have become too steep.

“It just wouldn’t be cost-effective,” Joseph said.

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He’s excited about the new direction. Following the extensive renovations, the updated venue will still welcome patrons who want to enjoy a drink. But he’s planning to add some entertainment, whether it be comedians or local bands, and utilize some of the space to include a dance floor.


Rick Joseph Jr., back, and Deacon Wightman, the construction director, discuss renovations to Sagebrush Sam’s on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Rocker.

JOSEPH SCHELLER The Montana Standard

The center will also be able to host a variety of family-friendly events — weddings, graduation parties, corporate events, just to name a few.

“We are thrilled to announce the transformation of Sagebrush Sam’s Gentlemen’s Club into the Silver Bow Event Center,” said Joseph. “Our goal is to create a welcoming space that brings people together to celebrate life’s moments, big and small.”

Three years ago, Joseph bought the business from his mother, Virginia Clark.

“COVID hit, so I purchased it,” he said. “I wanted her safe.”


Renovations to Sagebrush Sam’s are underway on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Rocker.

JOSEPH SCHELLER The Montana Standard

Under his ownership, Joseph added an outdoor stage for concerts and hopes to host other outdoor events such as mixed martial arts and motocross competitions. Another summer concert series is also in the works.

Last summer, the outdoor venue got mixed reviews, which was another factor when choosing to close the club.

“The feedback I got was that people loved the venue, but more people would come out if it wasn’t attached to the club,” Joseph.

A Butte native, Joseph was raised and educated in Missoula. His birthplace, though, holds a special place in his heart.


The exterior stage behind Sagebrush Sam’s is seen on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Rocker.

JOSEPH SCHELLER The Montana Standard

Several generations of his family have made Butte their home.

“My roots are pretty strong here in Butte,” he said, adding he spent many summer months at Oro Fino Gulch, Browns Gulch, Ramsay and fishing on the Big Hole River.

His uncle, Charlie Bugni, was a one-time owner of the famous M&M Cigar Store in Uptown Butte, and his father, Dick Joseph, helped run the family business, Sharief Pizza on Harrison Avenue.

“I love Butte with its family ties and its history,” he said. “The last place of real estate I will own will be with my relatives at Mount Moriah.”


Signage for Sagebrush Sam’s are propped up against a dumpster as renovations on the gentlemen’s club continue on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Rocker.

JOSEPH SCHELLER The Montana Standard

Joseph recalled a promise he made several years ago to his grandfather, Walter Clark, who was a miner on the Butte Hill.

He told his grandfather that if he did well in his chosen profession, he wanted to do something for Butte.

Besides the event center, he also purchased the building that once housed Fran Johnson’s Sporting Goods at 1957 Harrison Ave. Currently under renovation, the building has two retail spaces, one already housing the Exotic Peach, a women’s boutique store. Three apartments are also being constructed on the first floor and on the upper floors will be five more apartments.

“I want to bring it back to its former glory,” Joseph said.


Sagebrush Sam’s is seen under renovation on Friday, May 17, 2024 in Rocker.

JOSEPH SCHELLER The Montana Standard

So far, it looks like Joseph has kept his promise to his grandfather.