Three Legged Monkey owner closes bar, files claim with City

EL PASO, Texas - He's fought the city for years to stay open and now the owner of the embattled Three Legged Monkey bar says he's closed his doors.

Mike Armstrong says he won't reopen unless he receives a huge settlement from the City of El Paso. He's threatening to sue the City for millions in Federal Court if he doesn't get what he wants. City Council is scheduled to talk about this claim next week in executive session.

"Unfortunately, I've had to take this action after 11 years of doing business in El Paso," Armstrong said.

He's asking for the compensation for having to fight the City more than five years. Armstrong says the legal fight to save his business has left him with financial issues.

"The reason I've done this is because of the economic damages that I've suffered in battling past City Councils and having to go ahead and clear my name in Federal and State courts with attorney fees and things of that nature," Armstrong said. "It's gotten to the point that even being the third busiest bar in El Paso it's not enough to continue where it makes any good business sense."

Armstrong has delivered a binder, about 500 pages, to Mayor Oscar Leeser, detailing his lengthy fight with the City. He says if the City will settle with him for $1.8 million, he will reopen his bar. But if they won't his doors will remain locked and he will sue the City for $8 million in Federal court for civil rights violations."

"What I'm looking for is the City to research that binder and realize there were people that were at fault," he said. "There were bad decisions. This has been a five year fight and if I told you it hasn't affected me financially or emotionally I'd be a liar."

Armstrong says he employs more than 20 servers, cooks and members of management. But he says he supports more than 50 jobs in the community -- indirectly. Armstrong also claims his bar had more than $4 million of economic impact in El Paso during his first five years in business.

"It's up to the City Council now," he said. "It's up to them to go and decide if they want to go ahead and keep a small business in business. It's up to them to decide if they're going to right a wrong."

City Rep. Emma Acosta, who represents District 3, where the Monkey is located, declined comment. The item, postponed this week, is expected to be on Tuesday's City Council agenda in executive session. A City of El Paso spokeswoman said the City Attorney's office will not comment on pending litigation.

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