NEW ROADS, La. (BRPROUD) — After holding a drag brunch show at the Signature Southern Bistro in New Roads, the owner said she’s being forced to close down over controversy.
The owner of Signature Southern Bistro is Susan Smith Early. She opened the restaurant last year and poured her entire life savings into the business.
Early said she wanted her restaurant to have an inviting feeling including strong equality.
“I have all walks of life come through that door,” said Early.
In late March, Early released a “Drag Brunch” flyer on Facebook, which reached thousands of people in the community. Many of the online comments range from negative to positive.
Some of the negative comments have been life-threatening and use foul language towards herself, her family, and staff.
On April 23rd, the drag show brunch was a sold-out event for those 21 and older.
Unfortunately for Early, that moment of victory didn’t last long. She claimed her landlord shut the air conditioner off right before the show started, and eventually received a message from the owners of the building mentioned to shut down her restaurant.
“I was sitting here, and I got a message,” said Early. “And the message told me that I had until June 15th to vacate the building.”
Early said it was because the landlord increased her rent by hundreds of dollars, enough that she couldn’t afford to keep the restaurant open. She claimed it all stemmed from the drag brunch.
“I invested everything I have into this building,” said Early. “Honestly, I don’t have money to go and open up another restaurant, I don’t have money.”
One regular customer at the restaurant, Pat Roeling, said the Bistro was always under good management and dependable.
“Im going to miss this place a whole lot,” said Roeling. “This is a staple of my life in this town, and I don’t like to lose something that we can depend on.”
Early said her next step is to go to culinary school to become a chef, looking for a fresh start.
Early and her family created a GoFundMe, to help rebuild and find a new restaurant. Click here if you would like to donate.