HURRICANE, Utah, March 24 (UPI) -- A Utah restaurant owner whose sign bearing a bull statue with large male genitalia is proving controversial said there is a "conspiracy" against his business.
The well-endowed bull sculpture prompted complaints from the public and an online petition after it was installed March 14 outside Barista's Restaurant in Hurricane.
A Change.org petition, which had more than 500 signatures Tuesday, calls on the city of Hurricane to refuse to renew the business license for the restaurant.
Stephen Ward, owner of the eatery, said he is planning a lawsuit against the city after officials refused in January to upgrade his limited liquor license.
"They hate me and alls I've done is bring this town movie stars and quality and class, and there has been a conspiracy from the mayor to the police station to the council to all the haters in this town to disrupt, destroy and cause harm and disrespect my business," Ward told the St. George News.
Ward said the sign controversy is just an excuse to attack him.
"We're crooks [and] we're criminals because we're not $3.99 and Mormon and I'm not fat and I don't eat at Alberto's," Ward said. "Because I'm strong and powerful and organic. And they picked a fight with the wrong guy."
Ward said a man came into the restaurant and assaulted one of his employees on the day the sign was installed. Police confirmed there was an incident at the eatery March 14 and a suspect was cited for assault, but no arrests were made.
Hurricane Mayor John Bramall said the city refused to upgrade Ward's liquor license because the business is too close to Hurricane High School, which is located across the street.
Hurricane City Planning Director Toni Foran said the sign was approved before it was installed, but the plans may not have done full justice to the bull's male organ.
"We saw a depiction on a piece of paper probably about 3 inches tall that, you know, may not have had exactly the same proportions," Foran said.