A temporary injunction will prevent the controversial Double D Ranch Grill and Bar from operating at its proposed Tyler location.
Judge Christi Kennedy, 114th District Court, said she granted the injunction based on the evidence showing that the restaurant's opening would immediately and irreparably harm the nearby Toys R Us.
Judge Kennedy said Toys R Us proved its case and ordered the status quo be maintained.
Earlier this month, Toys R Us requested a temporary restraining to stop Double D Ranch from showing signage and completing work renovating the former El Chico location at Donnybrook Avenue and Loop 323.
Toys R Us representatives, who called the restaurant “adult-themed,” because of the attire female wait staff would wear, could not co-exist with their store's image and that its presence would hinder sales.
Double D Ranch representatives said the lease does not allow Toys R Us control of the restaurant's name, theme or uniforms.
Toys R Us was required to post a $1 million bond, which would be forfeited by the company automatically if the trial decision is in Double D Ranch's favor.
Double D Ranch attorney Robert Davis asked the judge to raise the bond to $2 million based on the restaurant's investment of around $750,000, daily losses of $5,500 and expected attorney costs associate with the restraining order hearings and subsequent trial.
The restaurant was built by El Chico in 1992 and is considered an “improvement” of Toys R Us property.
Termination of the lease would mean El Chico and its affiliate Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc., would forfeit the building.
Attorneys from both sides would not comment on the outcome of the hearing.
“I've seen the outfits (female wait-staff) wear,” he said. “They are not offensive. I just don't understand it.”
Caldwell said he expects the same outcome when the matter goes to trial.
“This is a conservative town and county. I don't think anything will change,” he said.
James Perryman, pastor at Hill Creek Baptist Church, followed the hearings since they began, said though the decision was based on the legal question, he considers it a moral victory.
Perryman said he counsels people and families and that problems ranging from infidelity to prostitution could be the long-term outcome to an establishment such as Double D Ranch opening.
“It always starts somewhere,” he said. “I am just as concerned for the girls who would work there. I understand they need jobs but a restaurant like that can exploit them and lead to worse things.”
Tom Mullins, president of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, said the decision will not “have any carry-over” regarding the city's ability to attract businesses. As long as entrepreneurs understand the injunction was based on a lease disagreement and not a moral judgment, he said it shouldn't deter business.
However, he said the decision could be to Tyler's detriment “if the city gets the reputation of having unwritten standards imposed by the community.”
Mullins said he has been drawn into debates surrounding the restaurant opening since the controversy arose. He said he and most of the business community advocate for a “free market” and supported the “re-use of the property while understanding the arguments regarding the location.”
“The free market standard is what we would like to see,” he said. “Wait staff dressed provocatively is seen as nothing worse than seeing Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders on the sidelines on Sunday or even what some waitresses wear at other restaurants in town.”