The backlash has been off the charts for a café in Azle.
The reaction comes after the owner posted a Facebook message designed to bring in a crowd on Martin Luther King Day. But the message didn’t come out that way. In fact, it has sparked complaints of outright racism.
Sabrina Pyle owns Azle Café in Tarrant County. She admits that Monday wasn’t her best day.
“Yesterday I came up with this incredible, ingenious idea for what I thought would bring people in for lunch,” Pyle said.
She quickly learned from a friend that Monday’s special of chicken and waffles with a side of watermelon wasn’t such a good idea.
“After she brought it to my attention, I did take it down. But I didn’t realize it had already been shared,” Pyle said. “I just did something distasteful. I just didn’t think it through.”
The stereotype that blacks love watermelon emerged after the civil war to depict blacks as lazy, dirty and childlike. The image is still used to demean blacks. Pyle said she thought the idea for Monday’s special was okay.
“I wasn’t thinking about the historical (context),” she said. “I was thinking, we have margaritas and tacos on Cinco de Mayo, so, let’s have some fun with Martin Luther King Day.”
Brad Pelt saw the post on Facebook. It stopped him right in his tracks.
“To use something like chicken and waffles and a side of watermelon as a Martin Luther King Special is disgusting,” Pelt said. “It’s not okay.”
Pelt is originally from Azle. He follows Pyle on Facebook. After seeing the post, he took a screen shot and shared it online.
“You have a responsibility on social media. You don’t just scroll past things,” he said. “You have to stop and go, ‘Wait, no, this is not okay.'”
And that is all it took to go viral. “It got blown way out of proportion, way fast,” Pyle said, adding that the phone at the café has been ringing off the hook and the posts keep coming.
“Like the one I got today: You should know better, you racist scum, I will never eat there for free…You are going to hell, end of story,” she said, reading from her phone. “It’s hurtful.”
Pelt said vitriol wasn’t his intention for sharing the post.
“I took the post down because I don’t want people harassing her, her nosiness, her family or her employees,” he said. “I still think you have to have communication to move forward. You can’t just say I’m sorry and move along.”
Pyle wants everyone to know: lesson learned.
“It shouldn’t have gotten out of hand, no not at all,” she said. “I am by far not racist.”