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Well, they do serve food

Presented (mostly) without comment:

A strip club in Houston has won a temporary order from federal court Friday night allowing it to resume business after a confrontation with police over the governor’s order to allow certain types of businesses to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Club Onyx opened just after midnight, claiming it was a full-service restaurant and that strippers there were merely “entertainment.” The governor’s order allowed restaurants, retail businesses, malls and movie theaters to open at 25 percent capacity Friday.

Houston police officers raided the business within an hour of it opening, saying the business did not qualify under the categories the governor laid out. The officers threatened owner Eric Langan with arrest if he didn’t close. Langan was defiant for hours but ultimately agreed to close the club around 4 a.m.

Then the business he owns, Trump, Inc., filed a federal lawsuit alleging the raid and forced closure violated his civil rights. The suit argued that his business was a restaurant and therefore able to accept customers.

Late Friday night, federal judge Vanessa Gilmore granted the club’s owner a temporary restraining order allowing it to reopen. It also prohibited Houston police from arresting employees for doing so and ordered the agency to produce all records from its investigation.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the club had primarily operated and categorized itself as a sexually oriented business before the pandemic and was only claiming to be a restaurant so it could reopen.

No one ever said this was going to be easy. There was a time when strip clubs might have been Houston’s third-biggest industry, following energy and the Medical Center. I don’t even know what I’m doing here.

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  1. Kenneth Fair says:

    I’m fascinated that Langan’s business is named Trump, Inc. Seems appropriate.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Good for Mr. Langan! I hope he sues the city for malicious prosecution and harassment to recoup his legal fees.

    ~selling food is deemed essential
    ~Mr. Langon sold food

    It’s the same concept as allowing Walmart to sell clothing, but making it illegal for Macys to sell clothing. Oh, Walmart gets an exception because they happen to sell food, too? Great! Mr. Langon is entitled to the same courtesy Walmart gets!

    Sly and Lina la Exploradora made the rules, sucks for them that they have to live by those rules, huh?

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    In fact, the more I think about this, I think I’ve found the solution for all businesses being bankrupted by government. Hair salons, and other businesses not allowed to reopen should all apply for food sales licenses.

    So, as an example, Juanita Jean’s Beauty Shop becomes Juanita Jean’s Beauty Shop and Food Store. She can prominently place a shelf full of canned beans and creamed corn for sale in her beauty shop. She then qualifies as an essential business. Easy peasy.

  4. Wolfgang says:


    Well, this sounds interesting. I look forward to seeing an opinion on the merits of the issues raised. What about the percentage of liquor sales, though? Isn’t that the decisive criterion for establishment characterization under TABC regime?

    Also, there has been a lot of SOB litigation over areola-covering (including cloth vs. noncloth, spray-on-latex or whatever), but focused on the First Amendment and secondary effects. As a non-patron one might luridly wonder what’s under cover now (orifices such as noses and lips in addition to the historically regulated body parts) and whether that is a relevant fact for partial grand (re)opening purposes under Abbott’s 25% decree.

    Also remember that Dr. Hotzenplotz asserts a state constitutional right to not cover his front end with a Hidalgo Bikini–homemade or otherwise–not to mention constitutional liberty interest in filthy fingers. So there may be some titillating parallels here too as far as the evolution of novel barely legal theories goes.

    By way of update stateside, Hotzenplotzes latest mandamus petition is still pending in the SCOTX, though that doesn’t necessarily affect the case in Harris County District Court from which it originated (this time).