It’s probably not easy being gay in a place like Pittsburg, Texas. At least, if the treatment of Collin Dewberry and Kelley Williams—a gay couple who visited the town—by the staff of Big Earl’s Bait House and Country Store is any indication, it’s not. As CBS-DFW reported last week:
In the town of Pittsburg, Texas, Big Earl’s Bait House and Country Store is an institution. So Collin Dewberry and his partner Kelley decided to have breakfast there. He says everything seemed to be going fine until they paid their check and were approached by their waitress on the way out.
“After I paid, her countenance seemed to change drastically,” said Dewberry.
Big Earl Cheney, the owner, explains what happened next.
“She told them the rules are on the door and it says ‘Welcome to Big Earl’s where men act like men, women act like ladies, no saggy pants and we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.'”
“And so I laughed and I asked what do you mean?” says Dewberry. “And that’s when she said to us… ‘to put it plainly, we don’t serve fags here.'”
The waitress happens to be Cheney’s daughter, and the owner says her choice of words were her own.
But it’s what happened next that makes the story interesting. When Dewberry and Williams’s story made headlines, hundreds of people took to Yelp to exact revenge by describing Big Earl’s Bait House as the “#1 Gay Hangout In Texas” and exploring the menu with a wide variety of double (perhaps even triple) entendres. They also collectively worked to lower the place’s rating.
I wish I could give this establishment 0 stars. I was sorely disappointed because I had heard Big Earl’s was overrun with gays so I went there to try to meet some women. But there were NO LESBIANS anywhere in the restaurant. Just a lot of gay guys. TONS OF GAY GUYS EVERYWHERE. Don’t get me wrong, I love gay men, I was just hoping to meet a nice woman.
They don’t even have fish tacos on the menu.
So I’m giving Big Earl’s 1 star because it’s not a great place for gay women. But I think gay men would love this place because there are so many hot gay guys there.
That’s a clever setup, and—in a follow-up story from CBS-DFW—we learn that it may be followed by a large trip from members of the Dallas LGBT community.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea and I’ll be there,” says Gary Burns. “There’s no reason not to just go and embrace those people and to love them and hug them and say ‘hey, we’re human beings too.'”
And Big Earl’s restaurant says they’re ready for them.
“If there’s any problems, they will be taken care of appropriately,” says Christina Cheney, who is Big Earl’s daughter and the waitress who made the homophobic remark. “We are aware that they are attempting to come out here. We’re ready for them; we have informed the Sheriff’s department and the state.”
It’d be nice to imagine that an influx of friendly gay customers could broaden the perspective of an institution—but it appears that the Big Earl family, with calls into the Sheriff’s department and the state (presumably the Texas Rangers?), isn’t really interested in seeing things another way. Whether the childish-but-satisfying Yelp prank actually turns into a road trip remains to be seen. Here’s hoping this story ends with broadened horizons and bacon and eggs for everybody.