The Florida Times Union

Meet Entrepreneur Fred Khalilian, the Flashy and Highly Motivated Force Behind the Club Paris Nightclub Chain, Whose Jacksonville Location- to the Surprise of Skeptics - Is about to Mark Its First Anniversary

Byline: LAURA CAPITANO and RACHEL DAVIS

Never judge a man until you've ridden a mile in his Mercedes McClaren. Only then can you know the story that rides shotgun to Fereidoun Khalilian (call name, Fred) in his $500K vehicle.

People see Media Fred, the one photographed with the cars, the ladies, the shirts that showcase his diamonds, gold and chest hair. It's easy to dismiss him as a man in party-boy clothing. But his beloved McClaren, his Lamborghini Murcielago (lime green with leather interior to match), the penthouses, the photos with megastars - they're more than splurges. For an ambitious entrepreneur, appearing to be on top of the world is as important as actually feeling that way. He's a man working on big plans: international nightclub franchise-owner, reality television star, billionaire and future governor of Florida.

Should his plan seem outlandish, know that the 36-year-old immigrant refugee sagely made millions by doing things like selling domain names and opening a performance nightclub in unsuspecting downtown Jacksonville. People are still dancing the night away there nearly a year later, when naysayers gave the place three months.

Life with Khalilian, president of Club Paris USA & International, is flashy and showy, two Times-Union reporters learned as they spent two days with this unconventional entrepreneur. The flip side of the glitz is 16-hour work days that thin his patience, leading former employees to accuse him of vicious outbursts. It's a schedule that has strained friendships and girlfriends, kept him away from 13-year-old son Freddy's childhood and cost him his marriage. His polished living isn't without its rough edges, like a restraining order, a couple of outstanding domestic violence charges and an arrest at the Ritz bar in Jacksonville Beach.

Jacksonville saw Khalilian at work in March 2006 when word spread that he would rent the Landing's old video arcade and turn it into a pink party palace in 90 days - in time to cash in on Fourth of July profits. The club opened on schedule, even with its mirror-less bathrooms and unlit stairs. With only two locations open of the 26 cities printed on his business card, Khalilian has no time to waste.

He vibrates on a much higher level than the rest of us, with an off-the-charts need to succeed and a maniacal, insatiable ego. In fact, if Club Paris sold Fred dolls that spoke when you pulled a string, the signature phrase would be his enthusiastic, Farsi accented, "Don't you know who I am?" Already a legend in his own mind, he works with the urgency of a person who's known desperation and won't go back.

'DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?'

On a Thursday evening, the night Khalilian pronounces his most exciting of the week, he is at his favorite dining spot in downtown Orlando. He's eaten at Kres Chophouse for 15 years, and though the name has changed over time, his favorite fishbowl of a table remains the same. Upon arriving, Khalilian tells an already-seated reporter to switch chairs. …

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