Thursday, March 23, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bourbon Cowboy Gets to Keep Mechanical Bull

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A mechanical bull should not have been removed from a Bourbon Street bar because it did not cause a zoning violation, a Louisiana appeals court ruled.

The dispute revolves around an historic, circa-1860 building, and a provision in the bar's lease intended to ensure it lived up to the "character and quality" of the adjoining hotel.

For years the venue located at the corner of Bourbon and Bienville Streets had been known as Howl at the Moon, a jazz club and lounge.

After Hurricane Katrina, however, it was converted into the Bourbon Cowboy Bar and Saloon.

"Thereafter, a somewhat different atmosphere prevailed on the leased premises," wrote Judge James M. McKay III, of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "There were instances where topless female patrons rode the mechanical bull and 'shot-girls' employed by the bar straddled male patrons in order to entice them to buy shots of liquor."

Bourbon Cowboy's landlord, 800 Canal Street Limited Partnership, sued the bar for breach of lease, citing a provision of the lease that "prohibited any form of 'adult oriented entertainment', 'striptease', or 'burlesque-style' entertainment.

The trial court denied 800 Canal's attempt to evict the bar but ruled that the mechanical bull had to go.

Both sides appealed, and a three-judge appellate panel ruled that the trial court conducted such a thorough investigation that its decision should not be disturbed.

However, the court also ruled that the mechanical bull did not cause a zoning violation and should not have been removed.

"In the instant case, no formal zoning proceedings occurred. Accordingly, the trial court erred in finding that the mechanical bull constituted a zoning violation and in ordering the removal of the mechanical bull from the premises," McKay wrote.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.