Indiana Bar That Banned Customers Following Bud Light Controversy Now Desperate to Win Back Business

Indiana Bar That Banned Customers Following Bud Light Controversy Now Desperate to Win Back Business
A glass of Bud Light beer sits on a bar in New York City, on July 26, 2018. ( Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A bar in Indiana has backtracked on its decision to ban customers who objected to Bud Light making Dylan Mulvaney—a biological male who identifies as a transgender woman—a spokesperson for the brand.

Fairfax Bar & Grill in Bloomington, Indiana, posted several statements on the issue in recent weeks, including its intention to ask patrons to leave if they did not agree with the bar owner’s stance. Its latest statement, however, indicates desperation on the business’ part to retrieve some of its lost clientele—or its hope of finding new customers.

The establishment’s initial post condemned those patrons who engaged in criticism of brewing giant Anheuser-Busch’s controversial marketing ploy. This was followed, however, by a series of backtracking posts describing a more moderate stance—emphasizing that the establishment values customers of all views and opinions, but drawing the line at uncivil conduct on its premises.

A later message from the bar then admitted the loss of clientele, alongside a plea for people to return. The restaurant was initially a staunch supporter of Mulvaney’s partnership with Bud Light, which involved his appearance in advertisements and the use of his picture on the beer’s product packaging. The move resulted in heavy backlash from conservatives, however, who vowed to boycott the brand.

Consequently, Anheuser-Busch’s market value has declined sharply, while sales of Bud Light have plummeted.

Kicking Out Customers

The restaurant’s original post expressed dismay at what the owner described as “all the hate” surrounding the issue.

“We are very open to debate and discussion and it’s truly a shame that we can’t have open conversations about this important political and cultural topic. Bars, in our opinion, exist as public spaces where ideas should be exchanged,” the restaurant posted on Facebook, as reported by Fox News.

However, this information was immediately followed by a warning that patrons with dissenting opinions would be kicked out of the bar if such an opinion were expressed.

“Unfortunately due to all of the bigotry and hatred that has surfaced around the Bud Light controversy any patron wanting to voice their concerns about the issue will be immediately asked to pay their bill and leave our establishment.”

The message went on to say that the bar would continue selling Anheuser-Busch products because “we don’t care who they make special cans for.”

The statement drew several hundred comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page, with many people pointing at the inherent intolerance of the post.

According to the restaurant’s owner McKinley Minniefield, the statement was justified. “We were just dealing with a lot of hate speech, and people being uncomfortable. My bartenders were aggravated and we had customers that were leaving,” he said.

Loss of Custom

In a statement posted on Facebook on April 26, which has since been deleted, the restaurant explained that the loss of customers was causing financial woes, and went on to express the need for new customers.

After initially slamming social media users for posting what the owner deemed “blatantly transphobic, homophobic and racist comments,” the statements were eventually removed.

“With the departure of some of our regulars, we have needed new clientele, and you have answered,” the post read. “I’m not gonna lie, we still need more of you right now.”

Another post on April 27 stated that the bar now welcomed patrons with differing viewpoints on the Bud Light issue, provided they act in a civil manner. The post currently remains on the bar’s Facebook page, though all previous posts on the issue have been removed.

“A lot has been said—some correct, and some incorrect—and I want to clarify my stance,” the post from the bar’s owner reads. “What I really want to convey is this: just be respectful. Different opinions are welcome here as long as they are delivered respectfully. We’d no more want ugly, aggressive or rude interactions about which sports team someone thinks is better, than about societal issues.

“We do not and will not censor opinions, but we do require civility in this establishment. So if you can’t play nice, then get out of the sandbox. That goes for everyone! Let’s remember why we even gather at a bar—to enjoy each other’s company—and raise a glass to civility.”

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