I noticed this on Facebook today on the page of a friend in the LGBTQ community. It is from the menu of a Mad Mex restaurant in Shadyside:
Apparently, word got out today. Between this AM and 5 PM, Mad Mex updated their website about this matter. They apologized with more than a hint of “we were JUST KIDDING” defensiveness, but the worst part is that they used the term transgenderED in the apology. Right after sexual identity. Big giant sigh. BIG GIANT SIGH.
I frankly don’t really believe that they didn’t realize this was offensive – do they not read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette? None of them? Apparently, a lot of folks agreed because this sort of response is pretty impressive. Way to go, trans community.
So here’s my thought – Seth Jackson (Menu Guy), Bill Fuller (Chef) et al should invite a group of trans folks in for lunch one day and talk about these matters. Contact Trans Pride Pgh and make the offer. Ask members of the trans community what their experiences are like dining in the Big Burrito restaurants and beyond. It doesn’t have to be acrimonious. But why not use hospitality to make a concrete gesture of goodwill and a willingness to be open-minded about how the community experiences your business?
Yes, they could just donate catering to a trans event which is fine. But I think opening your home to the trans community and taking time to sit down and break bread together is a better way of changing hearts. Earlier this year, Chef Bill Fuller shared his incredible experience growing up with hunger as part of his support of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. His anecdotes have remained with me months later. I believe Chef Fuller could become a tremendous ally to the trans community.
Here’s the response:
Recently, we published some new menu pages at Mad Mex that contained a joke menu item that made a reference to Caitlyn Jenner. While we regularly poke fun at current celebrities and persons of note in our joke menu items, we did not realize that this particular joke would offend so many people.
We do not and never have discriminated against any people because of race, religion, age, sexual identity or any other reason. Our extended big Burrito family contains many people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer. We don’t see them as these labels, we see them as brother, coworker, parent, neighbor, daughter, partner, lover, and friend.
We apologize for our insensitivity in this matter. We have removed the joke and replaced the menu pages. We hope that our family finds forgiveness.
big Burrito Restaurant Group
A note from the guy that writes the menu:
I can very sincerely assure our guests and staff that I meant no ill will or disrespect in the menu. The phrase “not even going there” was intended as a reference to the struggles people in media are having in discussing Jenner’s transition without being offensive (a point I accidentally proved myself), and was in no way meant as a slight towards Jenner or anyone else. Certainly not towards whole groups of people.
When updating the menu, I try to reference current events to add some degree of topical humor and mild entertainment value to the copy, but this one clearly missed the mark. I’ll take a better third and fourth look at future editions before sending them out the door.
Thanks for your patience,
I hope Big Burrito will heed my advice. I know they can do better.