Miami skyline from Biscayne Bay,
from Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress.
By Jane Feehan
The first Playboy Club opened in February, 1960 in Chicago. The Playboy enterprise, headed then by Hugh Hefner, initially offered seven franchise operations. The second club opened in Miami in May 1961 at 77th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
Eight investors, led by Miamian Thomas A. Perrine, kicked in $300,000, including the $10,000 franchise fee, under the corporate name Play-Key, Inc. Even after paying 10 percent gross to Playboy Clubs International each month, the investors made money. Within weeks 2,000 joined the club paying $25 each for the coveted Playboy membership “key.” Within months, 5,400 had joined.
The club was so popular – and profitable - Hefner bought the Miami franchise back from its investors five months later in September for $697,000, about a $400,000 profit for Play-Key, Inc. Hefner claimed the buy back gave the company more opportunities to better serve its members. The Miami Playboy Club continued to be operated by original managers Ray Baribeau and Buffy Dee.
The swinging 1960s became hokey by the 1980s. The Miami Playboy Club closed its Biscayne location in 1983 and moved to a site near the Miami International Airport. It didn’t do much for declining business; the club closed its doors by the mid to late 1980s.
Playboy Clubs International shut down most of its 24 units by 1991. About two remain open in other countries.
Miami News, Sept. 27, 1961
Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 11, 1985