Is it a Good Idea for a Restaurant/Bar to Blog About Political Topics and/or Other Non Restaurant/Bar News?

Photo by PoPville flickr user jacquesofalltrades

Last night I got an email from a reader with a link to the Black Squirrel’s Web site which had a post about Stephen Colbert, Chandra Levy, Crime, and Immigration. Whether or not you agree with the sentiment of the post it certainly did seem to be an odd topic for a restaurant/bar to discuss on their Web site.

Other posts discussed their thoughts on DC Public schools and more recently posts about sports figures.

I haven’t read through all the posts but the original email writer was quite offended by the message in the (illegal) immigration/crime post.

So I’m curious what you guys think – is it wise for a restaurant/bar to discuss political matters and/or non restaurant related news on their Web site?

I can think of Busboys & Poets that also occasionally discusses non restaurant related news on their blog (and frequently host events). Are there other restaurants/bars that you can think of which talk about non restaurant/bar news on their Web sites?

55 Comment

  • I think people should be able to blog about whatever they please on their own blog, short of inciting violence or some sort of other unlawful speech.

    I choose my restaurants based on food, vibe and cost, not the politics of their bloggers or other customers.

  • is it wise for business? probably not… nonetheless, it’s their web site and they can say whatever they want whenever they want. whether or not it has an effect on their business is their own responsibility.

  • Stop the presses — someone was OFFENDED!

    Jesus, that happens every day in the comment threads here on innocuous topics like doors.

  • Check out their twitter feed and how they handled their dealings with DCRA. I was appalled at how they handled the situation, and I haven’t been back since.

    • appalled? really? guess what? they also got everything finally resolved with the dcra. if that’s what it had to take, then more power to them.

      • They way they handled it was disgusting. It’s one thing to take to Twitter. But I’m not going to give my money to people who demonize public workers and make nasty, inappropriate comments. That, and the racist comments on their blog are more than enough to keep me away. Thought their food was subpar, too.

  • I guess if they want to risk boycotting of there restaurant. Talk about adding to unemployment! Sorry Chef

  • In general: A private business owner is his/her own master/mistress and can do whatever the hell they wish, re: voicing opinions, and has none to answer to.

    In specific: The Black Squirrel can do no wrong.

    In conclusion: Move along, nothing to see here…

  • Wow! inappropriate.

    I could see a gay bar advocating for gay rights, an organic or vegan restaurant advocating on food issues, or a place advocating on issues aligned with the identity of the restaurant such as Busboys and Poets taking a stance on a variety of issues. But the Black Squirrel??

    They can do what they like, but have a high risk alienating people with their bizarre posts about immigrants. Love that a restaurant in ADAMS MORGAN is posting anti-immigrant sentiments. They might want to relocate to an area that is… I don’t know… maybe a little less Salvadoran.

    • you do know there is a difference between “immigrants” and “illegal immigrants”, right?

      • also, if you lived in adams morgan at the time of levy’s disappearance, you’d know the connection to the neighborhood.

    • I bet their busboys and kitchen crew don’t share those sentiments…

      • how do you know?
        if i was a legal immigrant, i’d be pretty pissed at those who came here illegally. all in my family that came here legally are. illegal immigrants that cause problems here become a threat to all who come here through proper channels to try to live a good life.
        the stigma is huge.

        • Yeah, my family came here legally too… in an age where we didn’t make it impossible to immigrate! If we made a viable path to citizenship I might agree with you… but I’d bet my front teeth that my ancestors would have come here illegally if they had to.

          • i meant the ones still living that came here, so in THIS AGE. from the 80’s onward.

            i agree that we need better and clearer paths, but the truth is gangs like ms-13 actively participate in drug running and illegal immigration. just because the laws are strict, does not mean that everyone breaking them are up to any good.
            like in this case of the undocumented immigrant that murdered Chandra Levy.

            its a 2 sided coin, but shouldn’t we try to control the flow of people into our country, so we at least know who they are?

            i think pot should be legal too, but until then, every time you buy it, it adds to the drug culture that kills hundreds of our youth every year.
            laws are laws and the black market can be brutal.

          • I’m just saying, if I saw a way to improve my life and my family’s lives by moving to another place, I’d do it. People talk about American citizenship as if it’s something we earned, but it’s not. It was given to most of us. Some person who struggled tooth and nail to get here so he can make a better life for his kids despite all the hate that’s thrown at him–that’s a lot more deserving than I am.

        • You certainly don’t speak for all legal immigrants.

          My folks are legal immigrants and illegal immigration doesn’t piss them off. What pisses them off are people using the “illegals” issue as ruse to target brown people.

          Not saying that the Black Squirrel is guilty of that, but others definitely are.

  • I would prefer to frequent establishments that I know are Democrat owned.

    I like to know where my dollars are spent and who they go to support. If restaurants chose to self affiliate, I would return to Democratically owned establishments on a more frequent basis.

  • Yep, I was offended, and will probably not be visiting the Black Squirrel again.

    Such a weak post to try and call for immigration reform. Yes, Chandra was murdered by an immigrant, but hundreds of murders happen every year by non-immigrants, so the reasoning is dubious at best.

    Stick to beer and food, please.

    • +1 and I go to Black Squirrel often. Unless I see an apology of some sort they can bet I won’t be back.

      For what it’s worth I don’t have a problem at all with Restaurants taking such positions. But by doing so they run the risk of losing business. Like they have mine.

  • In response to the Black Squirrel post. DC has several hiundred homicides per year. Almost all are committed by people born and raised right in the good District. So if the US somehow had no illegal immigrants, DC would still have several hundred homicides per year. That should be obvious, but people like spinning anything to their own agenda.

    • “DC has several hiundred homicides per year.”

      Actually, DC hasn’t has several hundred homicides in a single year since 2003.

      • Actually since 1996. Over 200 is not several hundred. Over 3 is arguably “several” but thats still a reach.

  • The bar’s website should have information on the bar, not on whatever political bent the owners may have. I’ve been boycotting that place for awhile now, and have advised friends/family/tourists/random people on the street to do the same.

    I’m really surprised that no one’s organized a formal boycott or protest in response to that inflammatory rubbish.

  • The market will sort them out.

  • I prefer to read all of my controversial restaurant/bar news on Big Bear’s website. Or about Big Bear on other websites.

  • my college used to hold their alumni happy hours at the Black Squirrel for a variety of awesome reasons. Needless to say after we read about that a few months ago we decided to stop. I don’t need bizzarely racist/ignorant comments with my beer. It’s a shame. I love that place.

  • Is it a good idea? That depends how passionate the owners feel about the issues. They are free to advocate for whatever they please, but hopefully they recognize the risk to their business in doing so.

    Personally, I really don’t like that there’s no identifying information about who is writing those posts or what relation they have to the restaurant. I’m left to assume that the opinions reflect those of all of the management and to direct my dollars accordingly. That and it’s just chicken. Kind of like using an anonymous handle to comment on a blog. Crap.

  • What about that is offensive? Perry’s has a picture of Mao on its wall, should we discuss whether Perry’s is a pro-commie and pro-human rights violation kind of place? Lighten up.

  • Of course they have the right to post it on their website.

    Those of us who believe that the post is poorly reasoned and downright offensive have the right (and probably the obligation) to never visit there again and to discourage others from doing so.

  • Those of you boycotting based on political beliefs would be amazed how many places you will need to start boycotting if you take that approach.

    Just about every aspect of the consumer part of your life is controlled by folks whose politics you’d probably hate. Your food, your clothes, your homes, the things you buy for your homes, your electronics, your toothpaste, the list can go on and on and on.

    Follow the money trail of the owners of many if not all of the businesses you buy things from and see if they don’t have political causes, or make financial contributions to political organizations you find offensive.

    If the food and drink at this bar is of good quality. And the atmosphere is good, I’ll go. If not, I won’t. A food and drink establishment should be judged on those qualities in my opinion, not their political views.

    • Sure, voting with your pocketbook is hard and often imperfect. And if you don’t care enough, that’s your choice, but why deride people who are willing to put in the effort to try? take the boycott of Target–yeah, it was an uphill battle and they didn’t get the campaign contribution taken back (I’m not sure if Target could have), but they did cause some thought at least:

      • I deride the hypocrisy. The outrage over a bar when most of the protesters’ money is handed over to other businesses also with repugnant viewpoints.

        • I just think that’s an easy answer out of doing something challenging. We live in a pretty crappy world. We operate on imperfect information. It’s virtually impossible to avoid having your money go to companies that do bad things.

          So what?

          Your answer is total paralysis? It’s hypocritical to try to put pressure when something that you believe is wrong does come to light? And frankly, I *would* rather have my money go to someone who has repugnant viewpoints but keeps her mouth shut about them. I think the hypocrisy here is excusing laziness by pretending it’s some sort of stand. Be lazy, but don’t pretend you’re better than people who are trying to make a difference.

          • My answer is that if you like the food and drink and feel of the bar, you should patronize it whether or not you agree with their blog or website political posts. The “difference” being made here is putting a small business on the line on a principle that is rarely if ever exercised by the people exercising it in this case. Bunch of hypocritical, holier than though folks content on buying food from conagra and beauty products from proctor and gamble but won’t go the local bar based on their blog. It’s absurd.

        • It’s not hypocrisy. People do not have enough resources to vet every single purchase in their lives. There is no such thing as a perfectly informed customer. However, when a given business advertises their views in way that customers can’t avoid, the customers will differentiate by choosing other bars.

    • This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Elaine didn’t want to keep dating someone she discovered was not pro-choice and then at Jerry’s urging, finds out the owner of the restaurant she loves also is not pro-choice, which forces her to stop eating there.

  • If more people treated the local watering hole as a place to have informed, reasoned discussions about important political and cultural topics, this country would be light years ahead of where it is today. There’s nothing like starting a discussion with a fairly antagonistic statement to break the ice. Don’t believe me, read the headers from the Washington Post. So, Black Squirrel I commend you.

    It’s amusing to see the adams morgan crowd, known for it’s high minded civics and intellectual discussions get all hot and frothy over a legitimate issue as opposed to getting blitzed, eating jumbo slice and trying to get laid at 2am.

    Most folks just want to eat, sleep, drink and blog with people they already agree with, so as to reinforce their own sense of self worth. It may make you warm and fuzzy, but it doesn’t do anything for the country or the community.

    • “Most folks just want to eat, sleep, drink and blog with people they already agree with, so as to reinforce their own sense of self worth. It may make you warm and fuzzy, but it doesn’t do anything for the country or the community.”


  • “Stop making light of people and situations because sometimes, in situations, people kill people.” I’m just more offended by the lack of anything the post had to say about anything.

  • The most infuriating thing about the Black Squirrel blog is that the asshole who wrote all those entries seems to be too much of a coward to sign his/her name to them. It’s as if they intend it to represent the views of the establishment as a whole, and I would bet that many, if not most of the employees there share their opinions.

  • I think it is obivous that the post on the Black Squirrel’s website came from the owners when you look at the facts- owner Tom Knott used to be a columnist at the Washington (Moonie) Times- it is pretty clear where he comes from politically if you look at his columns.

    Do I care about the political backgrounds of the owners of places I give my patronage to? Not always, but this will probably make it less likely that I will make my first visit to the Squirrel.

    P.S.- and Knott does come off like a petulant child in the whole DCRA matter, those Tweets won’t help him at all.

  • myself being a business owner, I would never, on behalf of my business, post or comment on a subject like that. It’s too polarizing and controversial which could possibly alienate clients. Just not worth it.

  • You can write whatever you’d like on your restaurant website. That said, after reading this ridiculous diatribe that brings up all the same old arguments I’m not surprised to find out that one of the owners works/worked for the Washington Times.

    Personally I find the Black Squirrel overpriced and usually only ever end up there on half-price burger night.

  • Tom Knott probably doesn’t realize how much of an effect this could have on his business. A lot of people read this blog.

  • They have every right to say what they think, and I have every right to say what I think by not spending my hard-earned money there.

    I think it’s pretty silly for a business to get into political issues that aren’t directly related to its business. Why alienate your customers (on either side of the issue) like that?

  • Black squirrel has been one of my favorite’s in the neighborhood for some time…but after seeing these entries I don’t think I’ll go back… even though their beer selection is pretty damn good….

  • I’d stick to food, beer, and sports for blog topics if I were a conservative business owner running a bar in a liberal city, but that’s just my two cents. What do I know, though? Republicans are better at business, right?

    I was never that big a fan, except when they were on of the few spots that had Great Lakes. But the immaturity with which they handled their own inability to submit proper plans to DCRA was ridiculous and enough to turn me off.

    More important, though, Holy Homebrew, Batman! Homebrew contest at Meridian Pint? I’m there!

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