Joe Mills is the manager of the four month old Blue Bean Bistro on Howard Avenue. He said poetry readings were supposed to be part of the bistro's artistic ambiance.
But then, Biloxi code officers stopped by. "What this was," Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel said, "was the case of the city responding to complaints about noise."
Everything at the bistro suddenly got quiet. "They said we're specifically a restaurant," said Mills, "so we can't have that type of activity, as far as open mic night, poetry readings, or anything to that effect."
Now, records hang over the DJ booth. They have the word "banned" written across them. A poetry reading ad hanging in the restroom has the same message. "It's just telling everybody that we wanted to have that," Mills said, "but technically we can't."
Bistro owner Shawnee Perry says she understands that Biloxi is simply upholding its zoning laws. She has confidence that in the end, all of this will be worked out, and the poetry readings will resume here at the bistro.
As for the city of Biloxi, it says all Perry has to do is go to the planning office and request a zoning change. "Biloxi is open for business," Creel said. "But we want to make sure that we don't get conditions where it's going to diminish the quality of the surrounding neighborhood."
Adding to the neighborhood is the ultimate goal of the Blue Bean Bistro. So a trip to the planning office is being planned. "We're dealing with it," manager Mills said. "We're going to try to take care of it."