There is public outcry over a Rainey Street bar that posted misogynist, racist, and objectively crude comments in response to online reviews. Unbarlievable, which is owned by Brandon Cash, left misogynist and racist replies on unfavorable Facebook, Yelp, and Google reviews of the bar since it opened in March. Screencaps of those responses have been making the rounds over social media and Reddit, with people calling for boycotts of the establishment.
In one instance, in response to a comment about poor service and a bad margarita, an Unbarlievable employee wrote, "Since you had a towel on your head, my bartender thought you were the new bus boy [sic]." In another, when a customer accused the bar of leaving beer glasses in the shape of a swastika on the table, she was told to reach out to “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Unbarlievable’s replies have since been deleted, but someone created a Facebook page, Unbarlievably Racist Rainey Street Bar, to preserving the crude comments. People have also taken to the bar’s various online accounts, Google page, Facebook posts (since the reviews section was shut down), and Yelp to leave negative reviews, as well as share those screencaps in response. Because of this, there is a monitoring notice on its Yelp page.
Activist group Defend Our Hoodz (known for protesting Blue Cat Cafe as a gentrifier after the landlord demolished the East Cesar Chavez pinata store that formerly occupied the address) shared the screencaps as well, writing that it saw the bar as one of the "gentrifier businesses [that] pave the way for more of this,” referring to “open white supremacy.”
There is a planned protest in front of the Rainey Street bar on Friday, June 30, at 7 p.m.
Austin Monthly editor Madeline Hollern shared her own unpleasant experience at the bar, where her receipt had the phrase: "Eat my fuck!"
Cash opened Unbarlievable during SXSW. He also owns adults-only bowling alley Goodnight (which is expanding to West 6th) and Rooftop on Sixth. Eater has reached out to Unbarlievable for a comment; watch this space for updates.
Update, 9:50 p.m.: Cash issued the following statement through a rep:
“It is with profound humility that I issue this heartfelt apology. To those who I have hurt and offended, I am deeply sorry. My words and actions were wrong, inappropriate and inexcusable. They certainly don’t exemplify the values of a community that I love and care deeply about and my insensitive actions do not represent the views of my loyal and dedicated employees.
“Austin has been my home for over 30 years and I have worked hard to create hospitality experiences that reflect our unique, fun-loving Austin culture and attract patrons and guests who appreciate it. Unfortunately, my own intolerable actions have contributed to a negative environment that has detracted from that culture and vision. I fully realize that forgiveness may not come easily, but I am asking for it and I pledge to earn it. I am going to work diligently to earn back the trust of my customers, my employees and this community.”
Cash is no longer affiliated with the Goodnight. The remaining partners bought his shares of the ownership, according to the bowling alley's Facebook page.
KVUE also reported that the TABC is investigating the bar.
Update, Thursday, June 29, 4:55 p.m.: Before the June 30th protest tomorrow, there will be a press conference in front of Unbarlievable at 1 p.m., according to a message sent out by North Austin Civic Association Member Marcos Mancillas. He wrote that "members of the Austin community will come together to announce their intention to take action against Unbarlievable.” He continued:
“Repeatedly, patrons of Rainey Street's Unbarlievable have faced sexist, racists, islamaphobic [sic] and otherwise hateful rhetoric from the bar's leadership and staff. The organizational and individual behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the City of Austin. These instances have been well documented; it is time for action."
Update, Friday, June 30, 1:49 p.m.: Unbarlievable staffer Tyler Goodson took responsibility for leaving the beers in a swastika shape. In an email, he wrote that it was a "fabricated claim" that "unfairly accused an employee of Unbarlievable of an anti-Semitic act." He added, "My purpose was to mock the ideology of a symbol that has not, does not, and will not have power over me."
Cash also issued a follow-up statement:
“The recent community outrage has been a wake-up call for me personally. I’ve witnessed the overwhelming anger in direct response to my deplorable conduct and I want to assure everyone that I have taken it to heart. To the Austin community embarrassed by my actions and to those individuals I have personally offended, I apologize. I will be making immediate changes to our personal conduct and interactions with our patrons. Today, I began a very constructive dialogue with community representatives to hear their concerns and take needed steps to make sure my employees and I fully appreciate the gravity of the situation.
“As of today, I haven’t been notified by the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission about an investigation being reported by local media outlets, but I will of course fully cooperate with all law enforcement agencies.”
This post has been updated to clarify Defend Our Hoodz’s comments, as well as the protest.