I hate to continue to harp on this, and I certainly do not want to seem like a parrot repeating the same old words, but it never ceases to amaze me how crazy government acts when it comes to restaurants and those who invest countless hours of money, time, sweat and passion into a community.
Fact - Food and government do not go hand in hand. I thought former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg was a tremendous businessman and Mayor. But banning Big Gulp? Taking on Coca-Cola, all in the shadows of helping people become healthy is a bit of an infringement in that constitutional right, choice.
Let me explain.
Having followed municipal government is my newspaper career, and having dealt with those who sit in those hallowed city halls during my restaurant career, I can attest the combination is definitely based on love-hate, oil-water, good-guy-bad-guy. Full disclosure- I think anyone who throws their hat into the political ring deserves a medal and a mental examination.
Now before the feathers begin to fly, I must state I do not dislike elected officials. I dislike what happens to many of them once they step behind the inaugural curtain, drink the Kool-Aid and change their colors once the oath of office is taken.
For unexplained reasons, health departments, planning commissions, building inspectors and even citizens with an ax to wield look at restaurants as fair game for citations, warning letters and unsuspecting visits at inopportune times to inflict the power of the people.
Take the recent controversy over Burgers and Vine in Sonoma, California. After a historic building was renovated, remodeled, retro-fitted and reopened after being on the rental market off and on for seven years, were the new owners awarded a key to the city? No.
The owners were cited because someone complained the Pirate’s Flag - flying high – two feet – above the building, was not representative of what Sonoma stands for. We wouldn’t want anyone to think a group of Pirates, currently big in Somalia, had taken over the historic creamery.
Has the world gone mad? A controversy in wine country about a Pirates Flag, really.
Last week the ice cream parlor in Sonoma came under scrutiny because the door was too pink. Tell Pink that. She’d love it.
This week it’s the Pirates Flag? Where’s Clint Eastwood when we need him. Or Johnny Depp?
Once, in Deephaven, Minnesota, I had a visit from the Mayor at the time, because someone complained my business, The Cottagewood General Store, did not carry French’s Mustard. To the chagrin of my wife and partner, Karen, I ordered a five year supply of French’s Mustard – 15 cases – and did a pyramid stack in the window, explaining the reasoning behind the display. The complaining individual asked if I could take the display down as he was getting heat from the neighbors who supported the store. I accommodated, gladly.
Few complaints after that.
If the government doesn’t want anyone to eat their burgers or drink their brews under a Pirate’s Flag, I completely understand. Well, not really, but I have a solution.
I think in light of the Pirate’s Flag and in celebration of there being light in the corner again, everyone should wear a Pirate’s Eye Patch into Burgers and Vine to support the new owners.
Please leave the parrots outside. We wouldn’t want the health department to get annoyed.