“My servers are getting threatening calls, some threatening physical violence.”
People are not happy with MoonCricket Grille.
Since running what online critics slammed as an anti-LGBTQ Bud Light beer promotion last week, the Winter Garden eatery has fielded several threats, according to owner Bert Valdes.
“My servers are getting threatening calls, some threatening physical violence,” Valdes told VoxPopuli in a text message Wednesday. He said his staff also received a “threat of arson” and “complaints to the health department about people getting sick on eggs, which we don’t serve.”
Valdes said the staff was besieged with calls throughout Tuesday and Wednesday (the restaurant is closed Mondays), and the restaurant’s Facebook Messenger was filled with “a couple dozen” messages. "I quit looking at it," he said.
He described the situation as “unnerving” for him and his staff. He did not want to discuss any additional security precautions he may have taken to protect his staff and business.
Held May 31, the day before the start of Pride Month and marketed on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the beer promotion featured 49-cent Bud Lights to drink or “pour down the drain.”
While the promotion, which ultimately sold just 30 bottles, had its supporters, it was widely condemned on social media as anti-trans and denigrating to the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre, the second deadliest mass shooting in the country. Monday, June 12, is the seventh anniversary of the massacre. The Advocate, a national LGBTQ magazine, picked up the story as did Orlando Weekly.
The promotion gained traction because conservatives are boycotting Bud Light after the beer company partnered on a single promotion with transgender actress and influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Sales of Bud Light have dropped 30 percent since April.
Target, which has celebrated Pride Month for more than a decade, has this year also had to handle sometimes violent in-store confrontations and online threats to its stores, staff and shoppers as conservatives expressed their anger about Pride-themed merchandise.
In an interview with VoxPopuli, Valdes denied that his 49 cent-price point was connected to the Pulse shooting. But those in the LGBTQ community and their allies were not buying it.
"This is the infuriating and inevitable outcome of the kind of climate that people like Ron DeSantis and his right wing allies have created in Florida,” Brandon Wolf, a Pulse Nightclub survivor and press secretary for the LGBTQ civil rights group Equality Florida, wrote in an email to VoxPopuli.
“My best friends and the 47 other victims of Pulse are not a punchline. What I and so many others went through that night isn't right wing marketing fodder,” Wolf continued. “This community — our entire state — deserves better than emboldened right wing hysteria bait that desecrates the memories of people we loved and peddles our grief for clicks and giggles.”
Lindsey Croft Demetree posted on Facebook:
“…I would have continued patronizing this restaurant until they started MOCKING THE MURDER OF OUR NEIGHBORS WITH A BEER PROMO and then laughed about it when their customers decided that “celebrating a massacre” wasn’t the lunchtime vibe they were going for. When this was brought to the attention of ownership (because a LOT of us have queer friends and family) or just care about the fact that 49 people were shot and killed because someone didn’t like them, they joked that it was fun to “poke a woke” while other patrons said it was “only the freaks” who were being “triggered” (their words, not mine). Apparently preferring to dine in a place where mass murder isn’t a joke is too “woke” for Bert! …"
Winter Garden Police spokesperson Capt. Scott Allen said in a phone interview Thursday that as of yet, police have not been called to the restaurant. He added that on the day of the promotion one person talked to an officer. “They were not happy about it.”