The Royal Frenchmen Hotel in trouble after city refuses to issue outdoor live music permits
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A popular music venue and hotel that once helped local musicians survive throughout the pandemic shut down faces bankruptcy.
“Upset would be an understatement,” The Royal Frenchmen Owner and General Manager, Tyler Daly, said. “It’s do or die at this point, you know?”
Daly has been going back and forth with the permitting department for months, to no avail. He can’t get special event permits.
“Essentially, it means bankruptcy,” Daly said. “We have 15 weddings on the books for this year, some of which have been postponed and are three years old, reservations and money that we took three years ago.”
Refunding means a hit of hundreds of thousands of dollars all while they’re still trying to pay the award-winning artists that come to play, often to audiences of aspiring young musicians.
That’s why the music has stopped, the bar shuttered and dark, leaving community members outraged.
“I can’t tell you how many neighbors came by and paid us compliments, that I don’t think we deserve, but things like you saved their lives in a pandemic, we drove them out of the depression. I mean, it was a dark time,” Daly said.
October of 2020, Daly started securing permits for sidewalk shows to keep musicians going, then the permits were extended indefinitely and he says they were good until February when it was suggested by the Office of Safety and Permits they move the sidewalk shows to the courtyard.
“There was no statement about us not being permitted or having an illegal operation or anything like that, just that we’d had complaints about the location of the music. So we just shifted the location under their advice and presumptively we were permitted and we were allowed to continue just a different area,” Daly said.
Then in June 2021, Daly got this cease and desist letter from the city and was made aware of all the complaints neighbors lodged against the venue.
“It really was kind of blindsiding because I think just a few weeks before, maybe even the week of us receiving a cease and desist letter, Mayor Cantrell was at our venue, in our courtyard during a show taking an interview with the Essence Fest which was celebrating one of the musicians who was playing it at that gig,” Daly said.
A City spokesperson responded with this statement:
“The Royal Frenchmen was not shut down by the City, or by the NOPD. Neither NOPD nor Safety and Permits mandated closure. The business made that decision. NOPD did have community liaison officers visit the site to gather information based on community complaints, but did not take any enforcement action.
NOPD was responding to multiple citizen complaints regarding outdoor live entertainment. That venue does not have a permit for outdoor live entertainment. In point of fact, in their initial agreement with the neighborhood prior to opening --- outdoor entertainment was never part of the proposal.
The response from the developers to the Neighborhood Participation Program, back in December of 2014, explicitly says the proposed venue would not be set up for live entertainment. What they represented to residents at that time is not what is happening there now.
That has resulted in multiple complaints, and ultimately a cease-and-desist order regarding live events last summer.
The venue was complying with the rules up to 2020; they are aware of the correct processes.
There has been extensive communication with the venue operators over the past 12 months, to guide them to compliance.
This is not a case of ignorance of the law, or inadvertent or isolated violations. This is a prolonged pattern of knowingly violating the laws in general, and their cease-and-desist order specifically.”
“We’ve been applying for the permits since this place opened, we’ve been approved since this place opened,” Daly responded. “There’s no history showing me that this was never meant to be a music venue.”
At last check on Tuesday, Daly was set to meet with Council Member Freddie King to discuss the issue.
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