The Hyde, a new bar in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, has been making headlines for its “House Rules” sign that reads, in part: “No Cubs Fans,” and “No Trump Supporters.” I used to live off the CTA’s Addison stop, right outside Wrigley Field, where drunk Cubs fans ruined many an afternoon commute for me, and I still don’t believe that an entire team’s fan base needs to be explicitly banned from your establishment. But would you believe those two rules are not even the worst of it? The entire sign—16 rules in all—is hardly a hospitable document.
I know some may read this sign as tongue-in-cheek, but the humor doesn’t land for me. Couldn’t the bar be funny with less exclusionary rules, like “no ketchup on hot dogs,” or something equally trivial? But no, other choice rules include: “If you can’t taste the Alcohol, DONT ORDER EVERYTHING WITH CRANBERRY JUICE,” “No shoes, no teeth, no service,” and the charming rule #12: “We are always right.”
The Hyde defends itself in the Instagram caption: “There’s no room for negative people in our house. If you don’t understand the industry and are ignorant to the humor in this then do us a favor and hit that unfollow button. We don’t want you to rub your negative vibes on us.” The industry line is interesting, because if this sign hung in the back of the bar where only staff saw it, I doubt it would ruffle too many feathers. Har har, aren’t Cubs fans the worst? What about those lightweights who always order cranberry vodkas? But the bar put these on display for the public, shaming potential customers before they even get in the door. That’s not hospitality.
The owner of The Hyde also runs a barbecue/soul-food chain called PorkChop, where The Takeout editor Kevin Pang witnessed an eyebrow-raising promotional stunt a few years ago. He and his wife were walking in Chicago’s West Loop, where PorkChop was opening a new location. To draw attention to the grand opening, the restaurant had placed a caged, live piglet outside its doors. On that 90 degree summer day, the baby pig—an animal that doesn’t regulate temperature well—appeared to be nearly roasting in the sun. The pair considered whether they should have called animal welfare.
The two incidents are only related in that they demonstrate The Hyde’s management has a taste for over-the-top, provocative marketing. Owners had to know the bar’s House Rules sign would draw attention, and now they’ve certainly got it.