If we’ve learned anything about running a restaurant in 2018, it’s 1) stop serving plastic straws because if you do you’re the captain of the Exxon Valdez, and 2) any politician dining in your establishment is liable to throw your restaurant into the partisan fray.
Of the latter, the latest to bear the social media brunt is El Tiempo Cantina, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant chain in Houston. On Friday, according to Houston station KTRK, the restaurant posted a photo of one of its customers—Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As a cabinet member of President Trump, whose anti-immigration and family separation policies have placed his administration at odds (to say lightly) with the Hispanic community, the idea that Sessions could enjoy a meal at a Tex-Mex restaurant—owned and staffed by people of Mexican heritage—is a bit on-the-nose to critics. Just asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, both of whom were confronted at their respective local Mexican eateries.
In the case of Sessions and El Tiempo Cantina, the pitchforks came—much as they often do in 2018—on Facebook. Shortly after a member of the Laurenzo family posted a photo with Sessions, a number of Facebook commenters called to boycott the restaurant, according to the Houston Chronicle. Soon thereafter, the restaurant wrote to clarify that El Tiempo does not support Session’s immigration positions, and that they did not know Sessions would be dining at the restaurant until he and Secret Service walked through the door.
But it was all too late: El Tiempo Cantina’s social media were flooded with messages from critics and defenders over the weekend, and its Yelp page has seen its share of new one- and five-star reviews, few of which are based on its food and service. The restaurant has since shut down its social media accounts.