Austin bar under fire for sign mocking domestic violence

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by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 10 at 5:08 PM

AUSTIN -- Many Austinites have seen the catchy sidewalk signs at bars on 6th Street. Some get straight to the point. Some try to be wise. Others -- walk a fine line.

"I think they're kind of neat actually," said Lowell Johnson, who's visiting Austin from the Dallas area. "I think they kind of give you some character of what the place is like."

Until they go too far. On Friday a sign outside Minibar, one of the newest additions to the downtown bar scene, read "I like my beer like I like my violence: domestic."

It was put up without the owner's knowledge.

"I was at ACL Festival. And when I came back I had a bunch of missed calls from different numbers," said Minibar Owner Alex Elmiger.

The calls were from people who were outraged that the sign mocked domestic violence.

"I can see where people would think that's funny. But as a woman, that's a little, I feel offended," said Austin resident Brooke Koschade.

"That's probably a little over the top I would say," Johnson added.

Elmiger agrees. He fired the man who wrote the sign.

But it raises the question, where's the line between funny and offensive?

"If we have something that's a little more tongue and cheek, everyone has a different sense of humor. We'll get calls sometimes," said Christie Deschodt, Director of Marketing for El Arroyo restaurant.

El Arroyo is "the" Austin restaurant known for amusing signs. Before new owners came in, some of the signs walked the line. Now, there's a sign committee in place to keep them funny, but clean.

"There's about 20 of us," said Deschodt. "We start in the middle of the day, and everyone starts to weigh in and tweaking it until we get the perfect sign for the next day."

Elmiger now has his own system in place. He'll be the only one writing signs. And to make things right he's donating some of his October profits to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

"A dollar from every domestic beer sold this month will be donated to that charity in hopes of raising awareness for domestic violence," Elmiger said.

Officials with Safe Place, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, released this statement about the incident:

“We are grateful to the owner of Minibar for taking swift action to change the sign and for making a meaningful contribution to domestic violence awareness. At any given time, it’s estimated that 60,000 Austinites are trapped with violent partners.  That means a lot of people who walked by that sign on Friday night, men and women alike, were survivors of violent relationships. Those are real people -- women, men, and children -- who are regularly experiencing trauma, fear, and pain. We hope anyone who’s upset with Minibar for their response will take some time to learn more about the real costs and consequences of domestic violence in our community by visiting www.SafePlace.org/DomesticViolence."

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