First off some good news; today’s blog has nothing to do with that godawful film full of treacle that has the same name as today’s blog. Nor is this going to be a thrilling – as in “gosh, can we discuss lint instead?” – look at Rap Master Billy S’ classic Twelfth Night. Nor will I delve into the world of bad poetry. In fact I try and avoid that particular world just on general principles. To me the phrase “Poet Laureate” means “person who could not get a real job” or “he/she who has no useful skills.”
That being said, today’s blog does have something to do with language and perception. For example, can you believe that a black man was offended, and we are obviously talking about one thin skinned human here, by being called a McStinkyNigger by a bartender in a restaurant?
A California restaurant has settled a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by a black customer who received receipts using an offensive racial slur. The settlement is the latest bit of cultural controversy to hit the restaurant industry in recent months.
The Orange County Weekly reports that Mark McHenry had been a regular at the Landmark Steakhouse in Corona del Mar for several years. McHenry says employees at the restaurant had made uncomfortable comments to him previously, such as, “black is the new white,” but that he nonetheless continued to patronize the establishment.
However, on Dec. 5, 2010, McHenry visited Landmark twice in the same day. He received three receipts, all containing racist language. Written on the receipts were the derogatory names, “McStinkyN*gger,” “McNigS*it,” and “McCottonwood.”
You can view one of the offending receipts here.
MSNBC followed up on the story and obtained copies of three messages sent by a Landmark bartender, who is white, to McHenry:
In one voicemail, the bartender said: “Yo Mark. Hey it’s [NAME WITHHELD]. Give me a call when you get a chance man. Just wanted to apologize for that tab, dude. You know we were totally jokin’ around.”
In a follow-up text message, the bartender said: “I know I made a big mistake by crossing the line. I have a family & mortgage that depend on me.”
In another text message on Christmas Eve, he said: “merry christmas! hope to see you soon. we miss you! please forgive us for being stupid. its not the same without you there. luv u bud!”
McHenry’s attorney Stuars Shanus told msnbc.com he and his client are not disclosing terms of the settlement and Landmark Steakhouse has declined requests for comment as well. However, court documents show the bartender who sent the messages to McHenry was fired a week after the lawsuit was filed last March.
The incident is the most recent in a string of racial incidents in the food industry over the past few months. In January, Papa John’s Pizza apologized after an employee gave a receipt to an Asian customer which read, “lady chinky eyes.” A month before that, Chick-fil-A, better known for filing its own lawsuits, fired a cashier who put the racial insults “Ching” and “Chong” on the receipts of two Asian customers at one of its California restaurants. And also in January, McDonald’s suffered a PR headache when someone put photos of discriminatory signs online, falsely asserting that they were posted in an actual McDonald’s restaurant.
Okay, if you’re too racist to work at the homophobia capital of the corporate world, Chick-a-fil-A, it might be time to just cash it in and join the Klan. Either that or seriously take a long look at your pathetic excuse for a life.
As to the bartender above, not even white people think you’re funny. Also, just because it’s too delicious to pass up, I must note that The Landmark is the official meeting place of the Orange County Young Republicans. Or, as you may know them, those whimsical pranksters who doctored a photograph of Barack Obama and portrayed the president and his parents as chimpanzees.
Of course not all restaurants are staffed and populated by evil morons. Colby’s Breakfast and Lunch in New Hampshire won the hearts and wallets of its customers by banning politicians. Since the restaurant was a popular stop – it’s photogenic and near the highway – for pundits, it’s nice to see an owner put the needs of his regular customers ahead of his ego.
On the other hand, some restaurants may not actually understand what’s going on around them in the first place. For example, Olympic Provisions, a restaurant in Oregon, offered “Salami-Grams” for Valentine’s Day.
Olympic Provisions in Portland said customers can pay $75 for a three-stem salami bouquet or $100 for a six-stem bouquet and the gifts will be delivered between Feb. 11 and Feb. 14 by the lead singer of local band the Tumblers, who will serenade the recipients with his song, “Love Is Where The Meat Is,” KPTV, Portland, reported Thursday.
Nothing says love like “here honey, eat my meat.” Besides, everyone knows that particular holiday is March 14th and not February 14th.
Of course, no blog about restaurants would be complete without the obligatory bit of irony. So a guy having a heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill is a “must read” for you today.
Millions of Americans watch what they eat. But one Las Vegas man has painfully discovered that where you eat can have a big impact on your health as well. In a story almost too bizarre to be true, a man suffered a heart attack after eating a “triple bypass burger” at the Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas, local affiliate Fox5 reports.
As comically tragic as that may sound, no one can sue the restaurant for not issuing fair warning. Its website proudly proclaims the menu offers, “Taste Worth Dying For!” (Fortunately, the man in question survived his attack.)
Still, it was the first actual known cardiac incident at the Heart Attack Grill. “He was having the sweats and shaking,” “Nurse” Bridgett, who was working at the restaurant at the time of the incident, told Fox5. (Employees at the restaurant are given fake medical titles, including the establishment’s owner, “Doctor” Jon Basso.)
“I actually felt horrible for the gentleman because the tourists were taking photos of him as if it were some type of stunt. Even with our own morbid sense of humor, we would never pull a stunt like that,” Bosso told Fox5. “He was sweating, suffering. Anyone with an ounce of compassion would’ve felt for him.”
Basso said the man’s name is being kept private but that he is recovering from the heart attack.
Of course, you can’t blame patrons for being caught up in the overwhelming sense of irony. Not only is the restaurant named the Heart Attack Grill, but its sign tells prospective diners that anyone “over 350 pounds eats free.” There’s even a tongue-in-cheek warning sign at the restaurant’s door stating that the offered dining fare is a health risk.
Some of the menu items available for diners at the Heart Attack Grill include: The butterfat milkshake, non-filtered cigarettes, “flatliner” fries and four different burgers, each rated on an ascending scale of one bypass to the quadruple bypass burger.
There is video of the man if you click the link and, I know you’ll be stunned by this, he’s fat.
Which means he can’t eat at the world’s hottest new eatery, the Hello Kitty restaurant in Beijing, which has tiny chairs.
The face of the ubiquitous Japanese cartoon cat with adorable eyes and a bow in her hair has appeared over the course of several years on every conceivable product, ranging from pencil cases and chainsaws to passenger jets.
The darling icon based on the famous Japanese character has finally found its way to Beijing, China, and more specifically, the western-style shopping complex of Sanlitun Village, where a fairy tale dining room known as the Hello Kitty Dreams restaurant has opened.
A Hello Kitty theme park and maternity ward are currently available in China, but Hello Kitty Dreams is the first restaurant.
This almost nauseating homage to the in-your-face-everywhere-you-look little icon is reminiscent of the ET craze that occurred in the U.S. some three decades ago, except for the fact that the adorable little lost alien finally did “phone home” and leave us alone with the passage of time.
The restaurant opened its bright pink doors on Christmas Day and is so popular that diners have to call a hotline in order to try to insure seating. Often the restaurant is booked solid for a week in advance.
The establishment is filled with images of Hello Kitty. Bubblegum pink cloths cover the tables and prints of the little bobcat and her escapades adorn the walls.
Even the staff reflect the theme and color of the restaurant. Waitresses wear pink dresses and waiters don white shirts with a bow and blue rompers.
The cooking staff, too, wears pink instead of the more traditional white.
So watch out wherever you are. A Hello Kitty something or other may be headed your way and there’s nothing you can do to stop it!
For those of you who have a burning need to get your Hello Kitty Kink on, just click the link for everything from Hello Kitty bras to vibrators.
And you thought this blog wasn’t practical.
Of course, restaurants need to service the needs as well as the moods of their communities. It is with that in mind that I’m introducing you to the 15 Strangest Restaurants in the world. Click the link for full definitions.
Buns and Guns – Beirut, Lebanon
Cannabalistic Sushi – Tokyo, Japan
Cabbages and Condoms – Bangkok, Thailand
Modern Toilet – Taipei, Taiwan
Hitler’s Cross – Mumbai, India
Maid Cafes – Tokyo, Japan
Pitch-Black Restaurant – Beijing, China
Graveyard Restaurant – Ahmadabad, India
Death Themed Restaurant – Truskavets, Ukraine
The Hellfire Club – Manchester, UK
Vampire Café – Tokyo, Japan
Hobbit House – Manila, Phillipines
Robot Restaurant – Nuremburg, Germany
Mao-Era Red Guards Restaurant – Nanning, China
Christon Café – Tokyo, Japan
I have eaten at the Hellfire Club and, while the author found the place to be ghoulish, I thought it was fun and the food was tremendous.
So, as you can tell, the best restaurants in the world tend to feature everything from condoms to corpses.
I bet you’re hungry all ready.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!