Restaurant employee attacked, owner angry over bull controversy; STGnews Videocast

HURRICANE – As the story continues to unfold in an ordeal involving a new sign at Barista’s Restaurant, located at 460 W. State St. in Hurricane, which has sparked outrage within the community for featuring a bull’s extra-large male anatomy, the owner of the restaurant speaks out, saying he is planning to sue the City of Hurricane.

The sign, which was placed at the restaurant on March 14, has prompted fierce backlash from angry residents who are calling the sign offensive and inappropriate, saying the depiction of the bull’s genitalia is blatantly overdone.

Click the play  play-arrow  above for video of the interview with Barista’s owner.

In response to residents taking issue with the well-endowed sign, Barista’s Owner Stephen Ward said:

They hate me and alls I’ve done is bring this town movie stars and quality and class and there has been a conspiracy from the mayor to the police station to the council to all the haters in this town to disrupt, destroy and cause harm and disrespect my business.

Ward said the real issue Hurricane City residents are having is with him and not the sign.

“We’re crooks (and) we’re criminals because we’re not $3.99 and Mormon and I’m not fat and I don’t eat at Alberto’s,” Ward said. “Because I’m strong and powerful and organic. And they picked a fight with the wrong guy.”

Ward said things have gotten so out of hand that a man showed up at the restaurant and assaulted one of his employees on the day the sign went up.

A new Barista’s Restaurant sign in Hurricane is leaving many people with a bad taste in their mouths and sparking outrage within the community, Hurricane, Utah, March 17, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A new Barista’s Restaurant sign in Hurricane is leaving many people with a bad taste in their mouths and sparking outrage within the community, Hurricane, Utah, March 17, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

Hurricane City Police Sgt. Brandon Buell confirmed the Police Department did respond to the restaurant on a report of an assault on March 14. Buell said no arrests were made, however, a citation was issued.

“We dealt with an assault case and our officers cited the subject involved in that,” Buell said. “There was no arrest made. The assault did not take place in the presence of an officer and, according to state statute, if it is a misdemeanor offense not in the presence of an officer, then a citation can be issued in lieu of an arrest.”

Buell declined to release the name of the person involved in the altercation but said it was man in his 40s and that he was issued a citation for misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

Ward said rather than giving the city a “black eye” like many residents have alleged, he has “put (Hurricane) City on the map with quality” and all the city has done in return is attack, belittle, harass and torment him and his business.

Ward said he hired Attorney Dave Hunter and plans to sue the City of Hurricane after he learned in January he was being denied the ability to upgrade his limited liquor license – limiting him to serve only beer and wine – to a hard liquor license.

“I’m telling the city right now,” Ward said, “’I am suing the council for violating my amendment rights for conspiring to damage and cause harm to my business for six years. You are all in trouble and the cops are part of it and your police officers are liars and crooks. You are all lying cowards.’”

Hurricane City Mayor John Bramall told St. George News Thursday the reason Ward is not being awarded a hard liquor license is because of the proximity of his restaurant to Hurricane High School located across the street; it is too close to a school.

Because Ward’s restaurant sign is 34 feet and 11 inches tall, Bramall said, the sign is in compliance with city ordinances and laws – as it is within 1 inch of the city ordinance limit of 35 feet.

Hurricane City Planning Director Toni Foran confirmed Ward went through all the proper steps to have the sign approved by Hurricane City before having the sign installed and that the sign was approved by the city before it went up.

“We saw a depiction on a piece of paper probably about 3 inches tall that, you know, may not have had exactly the same proportions,” Foran said.

petition was initiated by Hurricane residents in March, urging the Hurricane City Council to refuse Barista’s Restaurant’s business license renewal. As of Sunday, the petition had gathered nearly 550 signatures.

This is a developing story. Check back for more on this issue as the story unfolds.


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  • Real Life March 23, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Wow are there some uptight people here. Unfortunately for the “rest” of us, they try to keep things stuck in the 1800’s. I can TOTALLY see this guy getting grief from the local officials. I think I will head on over to Hurricane tonight, and have a steak and a beer.

    • tb March 23, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      Haha, go ahead. A steak and beer for one person, I estimate your bill to be about $50-60 not including tip.

      • laytonian March 23, 2015 at 5:58 pm

        BS. I just read their menu online. It’s right in line with similar restaurants in Salt Lake City.
        What’s WITH you people?

        • tb March 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm

          I checked their menu, they don’t list individual prices for steak alone, but the steak platter is 49.99.

      • Mesaizacd March 23, 2015 at 11:37 pm

        TB you’re a liar about the cost

  • fun bag March 23, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Read the YELP reviews and LOL’d hard. Apparently the owner of this place is a complete lunatic and the food is horrible and overpriced. Would be funny if it wasn’t… lol

    • DB March 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Yea, the YELP reviews are…interesting! Calling Gordon Ramsey… Looks like we have a new ‘Amy’s Bakery”.

  • Robb March 23, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    For such a tough guy, Step Hen Ward, you sure are a whiner.

    • Mesaizacd March 23, 2015 at 11:33 pm

      ROBB. Wow you talk tough hiding behind your keyboard

      • Robb March 24, 2015 at 9:10 am

        And you don’t, Clucker? My name in Robb Willie. What’s yours Mesaizacd Smith? You’re as big a coward and bigmouth as Mr. Bull Penis.

      • Robb March 24, 2015 at 11:39 am

        I’m hiding behind a keyboard? My name is Robb Willie. What’s yours? Mesaizacd Smith?

        • Mesaizacd March 24, 2015 at 5:01 pm

          Still hiding behind you keyboard eh.?

          • Robb March 25, 2015 at 9:47 am

            Jeez, you’re stupid.

  • ladybugavenger March 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Who really care about the bull? The Mormons? I call bull**** its a bull people. Bull people hahaha is that a new group? A new group that doesn’t want to be disctlriminated against?

    • fun bag March 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      LBA got the good scotch out tonight?

      • ladybugavenger March 23, 2015 at 8:11 pm

        Lol, did I misspell :oops…Redds green apple, taste like a green apple jolly rancher.

      • Mesaizacd March 23, 2015 at 11:41 pm

        Woohooooo party at LBA’s bring your own glass.. LOL.!

  • mesaman March 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    The “rest” of us? How many of the rest of you are you representing and do you have their permission to be their spokesman?

    • Real Life March 23, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Sorry to offend you. Touchy, touchy.

  • laytonian March 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Hurricane City, you need to grow up.
    I don’t like to see a seminary next to a school, either.

  • Mike March 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    “They hate me and alls I’ve done is being this town…class…” Yeah, that sure is classy. I don’t care about the bull, but if you do, vote with your dollar and go somewhere else. Maybe the reporter quoted only an angry rant but this guy has some paranoid conspiracy theory against just about everyone. Too bad he has let these perceived injustices build up for so long. It certainly must reflect in his business to the community.

  • Bender March 23, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Wow, wacky! This owner is a treasure. Plenty of crazy on both sides of this argument. Yelp reviews are a must read:

    • Robb March 24, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Wow. I just spend a wildly entertaining 20 minutes reading those yelps and some of the owner’s replies. Unbelievable. It sounds like Mr Bull Penis is absolutely insane.

  • Mesaizacd March 23, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Wow LOL this is funny all this over a penis

    • Robb March 25, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Enjoying yourself anonymously on the internet. With you, it would involve a penis, wouldn’t it?

  • Diane March 24, 2015 at 12:00 am

    I dont care about some sign but this guy is nuts he is rude and overbearing and insulting. Doesn’t make me want to go to his restaurant and he hates the locals only wants rich people in his restaurant. I will pass.

  • LVU March 24, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Okay, so the bull is hideous! (Along with all the added metal work and pictures of food) But…should it come down? I have mixed feelings about it. But I honestly believe the owner put it up because he knew it would ruffle feathers and give him more ammo to attack the city or whomever. But it is true, the food is overpriced and the wait to get it is ridiculous. I also know that the owner is a hot head and has had confrontations with customers that didn’t agree on the price or quality of food. His only customers are tourists because they don’t know better. So besides the bull issue I don’t think the restaurant fits in Hurricane, nor the owner.

  • tcrider March 24, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I don’t blame city for not granting this idiot a liquor license, his behavior reflects the reason it should not be granted, and city should totally take all his licenses away and force this moron to pull up stakes and maybe move south of the border, where this circus type business is desired, what a absolute idiotic restaurant owner.
    this is one reason I would avoid going to Hurricane in the first place.

  • hikingfool March 24, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I don’t know anyone who does not want a “quality restaurant” to bring a little class to Hurricane. The exterior of this place is great. What goes on inside is a joke. I don’t know anyone who has went into this place that does not feel like they have been violated. Yelp speaks volumes. This guy has made Hurricane famous — for having the biggest tourist trap in Southern Utah!!

  • voice of reason March 24, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Easy solution. Someone get drunk, start driving and run into the sign.
    Piece of cake! (or run into it sober, if you’re not into drinking)

    • ladybugavenger March 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Do not drink and drive! But it could always be a “medical episode” or “mechanical failure” that caused the driver to “accidentally” run the vehicle into the sign 😉

      • sagemoon March 24, 2015 at 1:21 pm

        I hear steering wheels are randomly turning to the right on their own.

  • sagemoon March 24, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    I’m putting aside the sign, the rumors about the owner’s attitude, and the amusing Yelp reviews to say this: Go Attorney Hunter! I would love to see someone bring some humility to Hurricane City and its good ole boys and girls. Hurricane is not getting famous over this sign, Hurricane has already created its uptight, ultra conservative, unwelcoming image. Remember the girl suspended from school for “unnatural” hair color? The refusal to put in a school/sporting complex because it would draw foreigners? The ruckus they made over the liquor store or race track? The way they treated the owner of Pah Tempe Hot Springs?

    • Simone March 24, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Hey now….You didn’t mention the woman who killed her baby and the fundraiser the people of Hurricane and surrounding areas bestowed on her.

      • sagemoon March 24, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        Glad you added it. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of other strange things that have gone on out there.

  • Monte March 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Where is a hard liquor license a “right”???

  • Mean Momma March 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I just want to know what movie stars has this guy brought to the town of Hurricane?

  • tiff March 24, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    For all of you that are defending this man, walk in to that place and see how long you can actually stand to stay in there and put up with this fella. He drives customers away all on his own. Just watch the video clip, the man’s not quite right.

  • Freelance March 25, 2015 at 2:44 am

    We were there and had a delightful dining experience. Well prepared food and a pleasant environment great steak dinner for myself for a reasonable 27 dollars. we were quite shocked at the negative comments. and then we were reminded that you’re all nothing but a bunch of local inbred rednecks that have an open book drivers test and they let other people assist the totally illiterate answer the questions right

    • Mike March 25, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Sounds legit. Just like the favorable comments on Yelp, this seems contrived.

    • Robb March 25, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Freelance indeed. Yes, this seems like a completely unbiased comment.

    • anyonemouse March 25, 2015 at 10:53 am

      “reasonable 27 dollars”, Employee discount?

  • Nocturnal March 25, 2015 at 3:58 am

    If the biggest news in hurricane is about a bull and a scumbag owner, I’m alright. Better than murders and big time drug busts. Check the yelp reviews of this place from years ago. It’s a miracle this place is still in business. Every time I use the Albertos drive thru I’m amazed it’s still open. I’ve lived in hurricane for 3 years and never even considered eating here. Looks too tacky on the outside the owner is petty and has issues but like I said if that’s the worst thing about hurricane, I’ll take it.

  • Tm2282 March 25, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Watch the video! Speaks for itself

    • sagemoon March 25, 2015 at 8:41 am

      I see a man who is fed up with Hurricane City. I can’t blame the guy. He may or may not be a hot head. It’s hard to tell when he’s upset about an employee getting assaulted and a prejudiced city council and community.

      • Mike March 25, 2015 at 3:16 pm

        Yes, he looks like a hot head and also he looks unhinged. An upset and wronged man might have found an audience with a calmer and reasonable explanation of how he had been wronged by the city. His ranting threats make me think the man is nuts. He needs either more or fewer meds.

  • solocholo March 25, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Wouldn’t support this guy ever. Had an issue with him years ago. Fired him. He’s a real wacko. Just look at the video. Think he sniffed too much glue when he was building homes around here.

    • Simone March 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Are ou sure it wasn’t him who fired you?

  • Mean Momma March 25, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Has anyone else noticed how over the top the guy who attacked the employee was? No shirt, making outrageous hand motions? If you ask me I think this was all set up by the owner… Yeah, I think he paid some idiot to pretend to attack his employee and I think the employee was in on it to!

  • anyonemouse March 25, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Barista’s Restaurant will forever be known as that place with the giant penis and a bull sign with some large junk.

  • Tm2282 March 25, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Mean momma I think you are 100% right. That would explain why the guy didn’t go to jail.
    Oh and how cut freelance, you must be a tourist and don’t know any better

    • Mike March 25, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      The man didn’t go to jail because it was a misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer. That’s following the law. As for Mean Momma’s theory…those were some odd scratches on the kid’s back for hitting his shoulder on the post and hitting the ground. I would start looking for a rowdy kitten as a suspect.

  • Lastdays March 25, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    I haven’t had any interest in this issue since it started, but just for fun I watched the video about this story. So, for what its worth, Wow !!
    Regardless of all the controversy about the food prices, bull appendages, etc.. This guy is an A#1 Oscar Meyer Weeny ! Just on his performance alone on the video would prohibit me from ever going to his business. Never even heard about this place until the story came out.
    The bull sign isn’t even that big of a deal. Heck, there are cows and horses in fields coming and going from Hurricane with their junk hanging out all over the place. Should these animals be wearing something to hide their business as they stroll around the field?

  • Billy Madison March 25, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    A few years back I noticed this burger place and stopped for lunch. The owner met me at the front door and spent the next 20 minutes telling how wonderful he was. There were no customers inside which should have tipped me off as it was lunch time. I finally left as I was tired of listening to him and went next door to the Mexican place and had a wonderful meal.
    I’m surprised that he is even still there, bull or no bull.

  • Tm2282 March 25, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Funny all this “controversy” has put Baristas on the map! I haven’t seen this many people is his restaurant at once like EVER! way to go Steven Ward!

  • girlygirl March 27, 2015 at 2:14 am

    After watching the news footage and reading the article, I have a question: was the altercation between the employee and the other guy even anything to do with the restaurant and/or the bull? Also, just a comment: I am not a natural born resident of Utah but have lived here since college and I REALLY hate when people blame a prominent religion for their problems (think Nazi Germany circa 1930-1946). Note to Mr. Ward: we didn’t send for you…you are welcome to leave any time you wish.

    • Simone March 27, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Let me guess, you’re from Idaho?

    • fun bag March 27, 2015 at 1:32 pm


      • scar March 29, 2015 at 1:27 pm

        Sad! Fun bag is offended…. 🙁 don’t worry fun bag the Mormons can never compare to you Nazi scum. We all know you’re not Mormon as much as you bash them on every article so that must mean you’re a Nazi. Good to know why you’re so messed up in the head. This explains a lot and has been very insightful so thanks for clearing that up buddy!

  • jaybird March 27, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Ha, ha, ha… The signage is too appropriate. This guy is full of bull sh*%!

  • scar March 29, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    The video reminds me of a Jerry Springer episode… ya know? The little video clip they show before the people come on stage and start scratching each others eyes out… all of the threats and alternating finger pointing… well at least it gave me a good laugh! 🙂 “you’re all in big trouble”…. “this is going all the way to the supreme court” …idol threats and not at all convincing but an A for effort!

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