Etiquette gurus advise the insufferably correct to never, ever raise politics or divisive social issues in casual interaction, even if one’s pinky is properly crooked the whole time.
This week, those savants might’ve had their pinkies broken and their faces punched as restaurant guests, employees and managers-turned-restaurants squared off over controversial matters. The bruised combatants ranged from Cub Scouts to a standout athlete of our time. Fortunately, the only shooting victim was a building.
Here’s a blow-by-blow account.
1. ‘’Why’d Dad pick me up from camp?’
Parents of Cub Scouts in Denver were upset to learn that a restaurant chain operating in their area had sponsored a summer camp for the Bears and Wolves. It was fine for Hooters to cut a check, but did it have to send employees to spend time with the youngsters? They’d have rather not exposed the boys to what the chain calls Hooters girls, even though the women were chastely dressed in warm-up tops and shorts rather than the usual close-fitting T-shirts and short shorts.
The outraged parents didn’t realize that Hooters was a sponsor of the Scouts’ time at Frontier District Day Camp until they picked up their children and found the women mixing among the campers. They protested, loudly, drawing the attention of local media to what they regarded as an inappropriate mingling. It was not clear from the complaints if the adults were objecting to perceived sexism or what they read as lewdness.
Hooters initially backed off under the heat, taking down pictures they had posted of the boys posing with crafts they'd made and the Hooters employees. But, to its credit, it did an about-face after the media coverage, noting that these young staffers were devoting their time to helping children and had no reason to be ashamed. The women should be thanked and respected, not condemned because of where they work and the uniforms they wear.
Social media users largely agreed with that contention, noting that the business was giving back to the community, as was every woman who participated. As one pointed out, the boys have likely seen adults in shorts and a long-sleeved top before.
2. Never talk religion while drunk
In a sharp reminder of the grim possibilities every public place faces today, patrons in an Idaho restaurant watched in horror last Friday as a fellow customer in a backpack jumped onto the bar and yelled, “Praise Allah as the only one true god!”
Suspicion that the young man might’ve been a terrorist triggered a dash to the exits of Horsewood’s Restaurant. Bartender Christopher Ozuna had the presence of mind and the courage to confront the man and yank the backpack off him, thinking explosives or a weapon could have been inside.
The police showed up quickly and learned that the problem was alcohol, not religious extremism. The young man, who’d been drinking for a while at the bar, was merely drunk, according to the authorities. His backpack contained nothing but more alcohol.
You can watch the incident unfold here.
3. Zealots of another sort?
A regular of the Cancun Inn in the upstate New York town of Sugar Loaf was surprised when an employee told her and her party, which included a retired judge, that they’d have to leave. According to the trio that was eighty-sixed, their offense was wearing buttons and a hat that championed Donald Trump as the next president.
The restaurant’s proprietors asserted in a Facebook post that the group was asked to leave because they were rowdy, rude and obviously drunk. But they acknowledged that they’re still investigating the chain of events.
Much of the public seems to have already made up its mind. “You are bigots and I will never go there again,” one follower posted on Cancun’s Facebook page. The woman in the ousted party, Esther Levy, and one of her associates “hadn't even gotten to DRINK the sangrias they ordered,” contended another.
The 25-year-old restaurant posted a suggestion on Facebook that the outraged should remember “we are in fact one human race. Yes; we come from different cultures but we all inhabit this pale blue dot we call home.”
4. Fanning a fire
The emotions roused by politics, religion and gender propriety are nothing compared with the passion that sports often elicit. Exhibit A: what happened to a restaurant in Oklahoma when one of its owners dropped his allegiance to an out-of-town pro team. The place was bashed on the internet, conjuring a nightmare for the other proprietors and the defectee, Kevin Durant, whose day job is playing basketball.
Durant, the NBA’s MVP in 2014, has spent his whole pro career with the league’s local team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and its prior iteration, the Seattle SuperSonics (ironically, owned at the time by another restaurateur, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz). He had put down roots in Oklahoma City and opened a comfort foods restaurant called KD’s.
Durant announced last week that he was moving to the Thunder’s archrival, San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors. There was no indication of plans to sell Kd’s.
The restaurant has been slammed on Yelp and Facebook since the switch was revealed. The complaints have nothing to do with KD’s food, service or ambience. All of the gripes disparage the place because of what the disgruntled see as a gross lack of loyalty.
5. Habaneros aren’t all that’s hot
Consumers can also get unduly fired up about condiments for their Mexican food, as two nightmarish incidents underscored this week.
At the El Paisano Mexican restaurant in Dallas, the dining room erupted into the sort of brawl that’s seldom seen outside of prison riots. Fists and chairs flew for an extended time as customers attacked one another. The flashpoint: An unidentified party was served traditional salsa with chips, and it wanted the green version. Because a basket of chips costs $5, the guests indulged their anger, and that somehow drew the wrath of fellow patrons. At least one customer decided to record the melee, which has now been seen in video form more than 1.5 million times.
A few days earlier, a Taco Bell customer was outraged after returning from a drive-thru to discover he’d not been provided with any sour cream. The man called the unit, which was closing. The manager explained that the disgruntled patron could pop in tomorrow to have the situation rectified.
Instead, the customer drove to the store and shot the building four times.