CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Bunny Ranch Bar and Cigars Restaurant has kicked off a controversial national billboard campaign with the erection of a highway sign in Colfax, California featuring eatery owner Dennis Hof and little else.
Critics claim the ad is a thinly-veiled attempt to advertise Hof ‘s other, more well-known business, the Bunny Ranch legal brothel just outside of Carson City, Nevada.
The company said it is illegal by California and Nevada state law to advertise licensed brothels on such public billboards even though they are completely legal establishments in several Nevada counties.
“This represents nothing more than the growth of the Bunny Ranch brand, beyond brothels, beyond sex,” Hof said. “It’s illegal for us to advertise our brothels on radio, TV or newspapers. Fine. But it’s not illegal to advertise our new restaurant, so, why not? We want to grow our brand, no different than Hugh Hefner, Richard Branson, Steve Wynn, or Bob Guccione."
Hof noted that just across the county line in El Dorado County two similar signs that he put up along Highway 50 caused a community uproar over the advertisements forcing one sign to be moved and changed. City officials in Colfax though have reportedly already checked with their attorney and could not find any grounds for the billboard’s removal. Colfax Mayor Tony Hesch confirmed that there had been alarmfrom residents about the sign, but with the ad saying nothing about the brothel, there was little that could be done about it.
The bright pink billboard looms high over busy Canyon Way/Interstate 80 West, featuring a tuxedoed Hof with a foot-long cigar in his hand, the rest of the sign is just the name of the restaurant — everything else, is left to the imagination.
Hof's new establishment, located about 1.5 miles from the Bunny Ranch brothel in Mound House, Nevada, is set to open in just a few days, and is looking to draw on a mainstream customer-base from nearby Carson City and Reno.
The company noted that there is already a 46-acre Bunny Ranch Business Park in Mound House, with a Bunny Ranch wedding chapel and daycare center on the drawing board.
“The Bunny Ranch brand is selling a lifestyle; smoking cigars, drinking fine liquor, and eating great food,” Hof said. “Who said anything about sex? “