EL PASO, Texas - It's a bitter battle that began five years ago, with residents who said this bar doesn't belong in their neighborhood. Its owner says he's tried to appease them, to no avail. But this weekend, Mike Armstrong has a reason to toast
"I'm humbled by the judge's decision," Three Legged Monkey Owner Armstrong said. "We're able to stay in business. I consider it a victory for small business in El Paso."
Armstrong said he was prepared for the worst and was shocked to hear the court ruled in his favor, considering the case's messy history.
Three Legged Monkey is one of several tenants in Hawkins Plaza. The strip mall is owned by Patriot Place Limited, and it sits on city land. The city wants to shut down the bar to make neighbors happy and threatened to terminate the mall's lease, so Patriot Place filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to put the brakes on the process.
Patriot Place then reached an agreement with the city: the city would buy the entire mall for $3 million but only if its biggest tenant was evicted, Three Legged Monkey. That's when Mike Armstrong also filed for bankruptcy.
"The city council and city manager are intoxicated with power and I'm glad a federal judge was able to intervene," Armstrong said.
However, a frustrated Judge H. Christopher Mott admitted, this will not be the end of the saga.
"At the end of this particular battle, and after literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation expenses... little has been accomplished," Mott wrote in his court opinion. "3LM is still in business (at least for awhile) at Hawkins Plaza, PPL is still stuck in the middle of what (in essence) is a dispute between the City and 3LM that threatens Hawkins Plaza... This must change in the future, or one or both of these Chapter 11 debtors will end up losing the war."