City gains ground in fight against nude restaurant - CBS46 News

City gains ground in fight against nude restaurant

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The city of Doraville gained ground Tuesday in a high-profile case against a local burlesque restaurant that regularly features nudity.

The initial legal dispute with the restaurant, the Oasis Goodtime Emporium, was over noncompliance with a city ordinance that prohibited establishments from selling alcohol and providing nudity together without a license.

The ordinance dates back to 1991, where a number of entertainment businesses filed lawsuits against Dekalb County for prohibiting establishments from having nudity and alcohol together at all. After much contention, the county eventually allowed the companies to sell alcohol and show nudity as long as they paid a graduated licensing fee.

The Georgia Legislature in 2012 then adopted a bill that essentially widened the boundaries of the licensing fee ordinance to include the city of Doraville.

The Oasis Goodtime Emporium, a restaurant that features nude dancing, sells alcohol and is within the new jurisdiction of the bill, was then be expected to pay $100,000 a year per the license fee--starting in 2012.

In December of 2012, Oasis challenged the constitutionality of Doraville's code with regards to its operations.

Attorneys representing the restaurant stated that--after being denied a license--the restaurant sought to become a mainstream performance venue which regularly featured performances with serious literary, scientific, political or artistic value.

Oasis stated that it no longer operated as a "sexually oriented business," but as an establishment that regularly features "performances of serious artistic value," which would be in compliance with the city's alcohol code and exempt from the licensing fee.

The DeKalb Superior Court ruled against the restaurant in June of 2015, stating that it was still subjected to the "sexually oriented business (SOB)" code.

The Georgia Supreme Court stated that the SOB code defines a "sexually oriented business" to include an "adult cabaret," which in turn is defined as "a night club, bar, juice bar, restaurant, bottle club or similar commercial establishment that regularly features live conduct characterized by semi-nudity."

Oasis, under this definition, was then considered a sexually oriented business.

In December of 2015, three years after Oasis had been included in the new jurisdiction and six months after the restaurant failed exemption from the SOB code, Doraville sued Oasis, seeking a pre-trial injunction against it.

During that three year duration (2012-2015), the city sent undercover police officers and private investigators to the restaurant. They found that the it continued selling alcohol and providing nude entertainment throughout the course of the initial lawsuit, and the city wanted a pre-trial and permanent injunction from Oasis to prevent it from continuing to violate the code while the trial was ongoing.

The trial court ruled that "Oasis' ongoing violation of laws designed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the city was an irreparable harm."

With today's order, the court affirmed the city's pre-trial injunction--completely prohibiting Oasis from either selling alcohol (opting to cease providing nudity).

Story written by CBS46 Digital Content Producer Chris Price.

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