Jeff Sessions dined at a Tex-Mex restaurant and take one guess how the internet reacted

Illustration for article titled Jeff Sessions dined at a Tex-Mex restaurant and take one guess how the internet reactedem/em
Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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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.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

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DISCUSSION

the restaurant posted a photo of one of its customers—Attorney General Jeff Sessions

... with the owner and a glowing message. You missed that part. I don’t care if a restaurant serves one of these assholes but the owner smiling for a photo next to him and posting a message that, at best, is extremely tone deaf to this administrations treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers, never needed to happen. The fact that the owner did this at all either shows that he does support this administration or, at least, doesn’t care about the people who have and who currently are suffering because of Sessions’ actions. But yeah, let’s get annoyed that people are using social media, one of the few effective tools we have, to condemn anyone who supports a person who ordered that families be separated and that children be held in cages. Hundreds of parents have been deported before being reunited with their children, children have been given drugs without any kind of parental consultation or consent, infants were taken out of the arms of their mothers. Anyone who can stand, smiling next to the man who initiated this policy deserves every bit of this outrage.