Stories emanated on a nightly basis about what went on at Arnaud’s as its patrons pursued their sensual pleasures. Some of the gossip still circulates after 80 or more years. Many good tales from the early days concern Arnaud’s various circumventions of Prohibition. It was Arnaud’s misfortune to have opened a restaurant the year before the Volstead Act went through. Arnaud, like most Orleanians, believed that wine and spirits are natural companions of good food and good living. The fact that they were illegal seemed a detail.
For example: A businessman brought an associate to Arnaud’s for lunch one hot day. As soon as he was seated, he told the waiter to bring two cups of coffee. “Coffee? asked the lunch companion. “I don’t want to start a meal with coffee!” “Yes, you do!” insisted his host. “You can’t get this kind of coffee anywhere else!” Throughout the Twenties, liquor flowed freely at Arnaud’s but always under cover of hard-to-find private rooms, mysterious back bars and coffee cups.
Nevertheless, the law finally caught up with the Count. He was imprisoned and the restaurant padlocked for a time. Ultimately, he won the jury over with a convincing explanation of his philosophy. He was acquitted in time for the end of Prohibition. The Count turned his infamy into promotion for his restaurant and the golden age of Arnaud’s was underway.