On January 1 of this year, Texas made it legal for citizens to openly carry firearms in public spaces. Many restaurants encourage their patrons to take advantage of this new law, sometimes even offering discounts to those who do so. Others, including chains such as Chipotle and Starbucks, ask customers to leave their guns outside — and while they’re well within their legal rights to do so, they risk drawing the ire of gun advocates.
Pi Pizza in Houston found itself at the center of a social media firestorm this weekend when a would-be diner took to Facebook to complain about the pizzeria’s ban on open carry. As Eater Houston reports, the restaurant’s co-owner Lee Ellis jumped in to defend his business and hurl some expletives, and things quickly escalated from there:
As has become the norm for restaurants that find themselves in the midst of controversy, Pi Pizza’s Yelp page quickly became a target: A number of 1-star reviews have been left in the past two days, bearing comments like “...who wants to pay premium prices to snide hipsters for a subpar product?" (The Yelp page now displays an “Active Cleanup Alert,” notifying visitors that the company is removing reviews “that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than the reviewer’s personal consumer experience with the business.”)
Many Texas restaurants have grappled with how to handle the nine-month old law; dozens have opted out, with some expressing concern over the combination of firearms and alcoholic beverages. Open-carry advocates argue that this stifles their right to protect themselves, but restaurateurs say they just want their customers to feel safe. Whether feeling safe means being able to have a gun on their hip or just to enjoy a meal free of firearms seems to be in the eye of the beholder.