- Ali Linan American-Statesman Staff
About 50 protesters marched to the bar Unbarlievable on Rainey Street on Friday evening to demand that the establishment cuts ties with its owner after racially charged comments he made online caused furor in social media this week.
Carrying banners declaring there was no room for hate and bigotry in Austin and singing slogans like “this racist bar has gone too far,” the protesters also called for the bar to meet with community leaders to discuss how to move forward, and for the bar’s owner, Brandon Cash, to “fix his bias.”
“We’re not here to take down a bar,” protester Vero Marquez said. “We just want people to be educated on where they choose to spend their money.”
After the protest broke off — which lasted less than 10 minutes — the group went on to pass out fliers with their demands and a summary of the controversy to customers of neighboring bars. All the while, customers sitting at the front lawn of Unbarlievable told passersby to throw away the fliers.
Social media blew up after word got out that Cash made several derogatory insults toward customers who had penned negative reviews about the bar. In response to a Google review in which a patron called the bar an “ill-conceived and poorly executed” blend of circus theme and sports bar, someone identified as the owner of the bar shot back by writing “since you had a towel on your head my bartender thought you were the new bus boy and handed you dirty dishes to wash.”
Since the backlash, Cash has addressed the community through a spokesperson saying the recent outrage had been “a wake-up call for me personally.”
“To the Austin community embarrassed by my actions and to those individuals I have personally offended, I apologize,” he said.
On Friday, a sign hung outside of the bar that read, “Dear Austin, We’re sorry.”
A few hours before the protest, several Austin civic leaders, including Austin City Council Member Pio Renteria, Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gomez and Travis County Treasurer Dolores Ortega, held a news conference to condemn Cash’s comments.
“Austin, Texas is a welcoming city. Here, we respect others and celebrate diversity. Austin is our home. It belongs to all of us. Your racism, your bigotry and your hatred have no place here,” said Renteria, who called for a community boycott that would “withdraw all of our economic support from this bar.”