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Wind in Their Sales

Pirate's Alley Battles to Stay Open

Another French Quarter institution is danger of disappearing amidst a zoning dispute. Locals are rallying to save Pirate’s Alley in advance of a June 11th meeting scheduled to determine the future of the small bar.


The establishment boasts the rare rare balance of affection between locals and tourists, but the spot’s ultimate fate will rest with the affections of the New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustment. At issue is the location’s classification as a restaurant. Said classification requires the business to generate over 50 percent of their sales from food which Pirate’s Alley does not. Now, they must receive a variance to operate as a cocktail lounge or shutter the premises. 


The troubles started in 2013 when the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control audited Pirate’s Alley and discovered that employees were ringing up booze sales as food. 


After some strict warnings and the implementation of a new POS system, the state agency agreed to license the institution as a bar—provided that the city agrees. The latter requirement has proven tricky.


In November, the switch received preliminary approval, but Jared Munster, Director of the Department of Safety and Permits, put the brakes on the change. Munster wanted assurances both that the Alley truly is a bar and that it has been one for over a decade.


This all sets up a decisive moment on June 13th. At the hearing, the Board of Zoning Adjustments will determine whether the venue is granted the variance or not. In effect, the hearing will determine whether Pirate’s Alley stays open or not.


“As no new bars are allowed to open in the area, they have decided we must shut down. But are we a ‘new’ bar? Why hell no,” explain management in a statement. “We have been a bar for around 20 years, and a well-loved, well-respected, central to the community bar at that.”


Pirate’s Alley is counting on a large public outcry to push them over the top. Zoning has already received dozens of letters and an online petition to keep the place open already had over 17,000 signatures at press time.

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