Hats (and shirts, underwear, shoes . . .) off to you, Admiral Theatre, winner of the Albany Park Neighbors’ January award for “helping keep Albany Park Beautiful.”

Call the offerings inside the strip club trashy, if you like. But the Northwest Side business deserves nothing but praise for keeping it clean on the outside, the community organization says.

“It’s difficult to dispute the Admiral doesn’t deserve the award,” said Shylo Bisnett, an Albany Park Neighbors member. “They recently upgraded their façade and even during construction it was still tidy, it was still passable.”

The Admiral was one of six neighborhood businesses that picked up a “Block Star Business” award in January.

It’s hard to blame Nick Cecola, the theater’s creative director, for being a bit suspicious when he got an email earlier this week informing him of the award.

Cecola said he thought it might be “some kind of scam.”

But now the club is making plans to put their certificate in the main lobby.

“We’re actually getting it framed,” Cecola said.

Michael Spalding, who is the brand manager at the Admiral Theatre, holds a certificate from a neighborhood group recognizing how clean the Admiral keeps the area. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

Michael Spalding, who is the brand manager at the Admiral Theatre, holds a certificate from a neighborhood group recognizing how clean the Admiral keeps the area. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

The club, which has been operating for two-plus decades and is open every day but Christmas Eve, takes pride in being a good neighbor, Cecola said.

“It’s definitely nice being noticed for what we do,” he said. “We employ a lot of people and we do have someone always keeping everything clean, walking up and down the sidewalk, making sure they sweep, keeping the whole block basically immaculate.”

Community members nominate businesses and ultimately select the winners when they vote on the Albany Park Neighbors Facebook page, Bisnett said. The award is handed out quarterly, Bisnett said.

The manager of Noon O Kabab, one of the other winners for January, said she has no problem with a strip club being recognized.

“If you look at their building, they are the cleanest building over on that part of Lawrence Avenue,” said Marie Farhat. “Whether people like what they do there, I really believe that if you look from the outside, you’d never know it’s a strip club.”

Ald. Rey Colon, in whose 35th Ward the Admiral sits, couldn’t agree more.

“The Admiral Theatre stands out on Lawrence Avenue as one of the most attractive and well-maintained buildings in Albany Park,” Colon said in a statement. “It is my hope that Albany Park Neighbors’ recognition of the Admiral Theatre motivates other businesses and property owners to follow their example.”

Other winners for January were Golden Crust Pizza and Tap, Lawrence Eye Care, Noon O Kabab, Mayan Sol Latin Grill and Andy’s Fruit Ranch.