McKINNEY – An unusual court case between a popular honky tonk and the city of McKinney took a brief repreive Tuesday following a ruling that a former Collin County prosecutor called "bizarre and unprecedented."
Ron Reynolds, owner of Hank's Texas Grill at 1310 N. Central Expressway, filed a lawsuit against the city, saying police have harassed his staff and customers more than 500 times in the 10 years since he opened it.
The issue has become so heated that a judge on Tuesday banned police officers, firefighters and code enforcers from even entering the business without an invitation or an emergency.
Now, the city is fighting back against the temporary restraining order, threatening to close the joint.
The city of McKinney issued a certificate of occupancy to Hank's Texas Grill in 2003 and again, after a kitchen fire, in 2006.
By its issuance, the city determined the building was safe and in compliance with all city codes. But something changed on June 12. That latest inspection, conducted by the McKinney Fire Department alongside building, construction and food service officials, turned up a staggering 80 violations.
"We're inspected every year by the fire chief and the fire marshal," said Reynolds. "We're inspected every quarter by the Health Department. And up until this June 12 inspection, we had absolutely zero violations for this restaurant since it was built."
Among the violations was an indoor gas meter that inspectors say could leak natural gas if it malfunctions.
"We got our CO in 2003 when it was there. We got our CO in 2006 when it was there," said Reynolds.
The city also cited Hank's for not having an indoor fire sprinkler system, required for big crowds that attend live performances. Other violations included problems with fire exits, emergency lighting and alarm systems; grease traps under the patio, which inspectors felt endanger patrons; and unapproved wall hangings including a giant Texas flag, mounted animals and banners, all of which are considered fire hazards.
McKinney city leaders would not comment on pending litigation. But in their lawsuit, they claim the violations at Hank's create a danger to the life, health, property and safety of the public.
In his lawsuit against the city, Reynolds cites scores of patrol units in the parking lot during peak business hours.
"Regardless of whether they're intoxicated or not, no one feels comfortable with the police watching every move you make," said Reynolds.
Hank's lawyers convinced a visiting judge to issue a temporary restraining order, preventing police, fire and code enforcers from being on the property, which is what the former prosecutor called "bizarre and unprecedented."
The city followed with its own lawsuit, demanding Hank's shut down until it corrects the violations.
"Someone in the city, someone, has a vendetta," said Reynolds. "They don't like our type of business. They don't like our customers."
The case will resume in a Collin County courtroom in two weeks.