The oldest location of the New Orleans burger chain Bud's Broiler has shut down, at least temporarily, amid a court battle playing out between its franchisee and the brand's parent company.

A Civil District Court judge on Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction against franchise owner Shannon Prince at the request of parent company Bud's Broiler Holdings, which is seeking to prevent her from using the Bud’s Broiler name or operating a competing business.

The normally 24-hour restaurant on City Park Avenue was locked during lunch Wednesday, with a hand-printed note on the door reading, "Sorry we're closed."

The legal dispute spilled into the open last week when the "Bud's" part of the restaurant's name on its vintage neon sign was painted over.

This New Orleans location is the second Bud's Broiler to shut down recently. A franchise in Baton Rouge near Tiger Stadium, also owned by Prince, closed in November, just months after opening.

The six remaining locations of the brand around the New Orleans area remain open.

+5 
budsclosed

A sign on the door at the oldest location of Bud's Broiler on City Park Avenue informs visitors they're out of luck on Dec. 5, 2018.

The closures come amid a legal spat between Prince and the parent company, owned by Melvin and Rebecca Ziegler.

Prince filed suit in October against Bud's Broiler Holdings alleging that the parent firm mismanaged its finances and invaded her franchise territories with two pop-up locations, among other complaints.

The parent company said Prince violated the franchise agreement by purchasing meat from other companies and trying to re-create on her own the recipe for the brand's smoky-flavored hickory sauce.

Bud's Broiler was founded in 1952 and has always been known for its simple, charcoal-broiled burgers topped with shredded cheese and hickory sauce. It has remained a fixture in the city despite the incursion of larger fast-food chains and more recent entries such as The Company Burger and Five Guys.

+5 
buds1.jpg copy for Red

Bud's Broiler is known for its thin-patty charbroiled burgers with shredded cheddar.

Over the years, locations have opened and closed throughout the city and region as the brand has grown into a small chain.

The oldest location, occupying a whitewashed triangular building near New Orleans' City Park, has long been the most recognizable.  

Prince brought back that location after Hurricane Katrina, opening it under a franchise agreement in 2009.  

In her lawsuit, filed in state district court in Baton Rouge, Prince said that in 2013, she entered into a contract with Melvin Ziegler for him to manage the City Park eatery. That arrangement ended in May, the suit states.

By 2016, Ziegler had bought the parent company, Bud’s Broiler Holdings, from a previous owner.

Prince claims that in the same year, Bud’s Broiler Holdings brought her a new franchise agreement that required Prince to buy food and supplies through the parent company and increased the parent company's marketing fees, royalties and share of revenue from gaming machines.

Her suit claims Ziegler later sold her on the idea of developing a new location on Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge. That restaurant opened in June, but in her suit, Prince alleges the franchise agreement was based on “false representations and omissions.” As a result, the suit states, the Nicholson location “has been hemorrhaging money.”

Prince also alleges the company violated her franchise territory agreements by operating a concession stand at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans City Park in 2016 and 2017 and opening a concession stand in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

In its own lawsuit, filed in Civil District Court, Bud's Broiler Holdings accuses Prince of breach of contract.

In particular, the company says, the City Park Avenue location was selling burgers with meat purchased from other sources and had “attempted to duplicate” the brand’s hickory sauce. Court filings include photos purportedly showing boxes of food supplies from Sysco brands at the restaurant.

Prince did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Attorneys for Bud's Broiler Holdings would not comment. 

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.