Buffa's Bar & Restaurant — a popular Marigny watering hole and entertainment spot on Esplanade Avenue — faces a lawsuit from 1011 Esplanade Avenue Inc. alleging that the bar has violated the city's noise ordinance. The suit also challenges Buffa's mayoralty permit allowing live music, though the venue has hosted music in the neighborhood for several years.
The suit comes nearly two years after City Hall began cracking down on bar licenses and music permits, not to mention the years-long debates over rewriting and enforcing the city's noise ordinances. The city crackdown forced a string of music venues and bars to shuffle schedules.
In 2012, Buffa's submitted more than 50 letters from patrons and musicians backing the bar's claim that it had hosted live music in the past. On a July 3 Facebook post, Buffa's wrote, "The city accepted these letters as proof and we assumed that would be the end of it, as long as we paid for the permit each year." On July 7, Buffa's hosted a notary for musicians, patrons and neighbors to submit letters in the bar's defense.
Buffa's and 1011 Esplanade Avenue Inc., an address held by Sidney Torres IV, will fight it out in Orleans Parish Civil District Court starting July 22. Torres, the former SDT French Quarter trash mogul, purchased the property in 1999 (predating the bar's history of live music) and recently attempted to sell the property, which is adjacent to Buffa's. Chuck Rogers, who owns Buffa's, and the bar's staff say they know Torres as a customer and were surprised to receive notice of the suit.
Tommy Milliner, who notarized the pro-Buffa's letters on July 7, declined to say how many were generated, but, he said, "there were a lot."
"I wasn't very familiar with Buffa's before I got involved, and I'm amazed at what a beloved institution it is," Milliner said. "Musicians talk about what a meaningful place, a networking place, it is. Then of course you've got a lot of statements from people who are patrons. ... So many people in the neighborhood talk about how much they love the place as an anchor in the neighborhood."