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 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.
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.
A 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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