Foodie News

Houston bars face Facebook fire for their LGBT stand, Russian vodka ban: Trolls come out and attack

Houston bars face Facebook fire for a LGBT stand, Russian vodka ban

Russian vodka ban
Bars and restaurants nationwide are boycotting Russian vodka in response to a new Russian law that bans same-sex couples from engaging in public displays of affection. BoycottRussianVodka.com
El Gran Malo bar patio crowd at night
El Gran Malo Photo by © Debora Smail/Greater Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau
The Dirt Bar neon sign
The Dirt Bar in downtown Houston The Dirt Bar/Facebook
Russian vodka ban
El Gran Malo bar patio crowd at night
The Dirt Bar neon sign

A Houston bar ownership group is standing up for what it believes in — and banning Russian vodka to make a point.

The ownership group behind Dirt Bar, El Gran Malo and the soon to open El Big Bad are joining other bars and restaurants around America in the vodka boycott. The ban is a response to a recently passed Russian law that bans public displays of affection by same-sex couples.

 "We're not trying to pat ourselves on the back. We don't expect to sell more or less drinks (because of the change)."  

Dirt Bar co-owner Shaun Sharma tells CultureMap that he and co-owners Lea McKinney and Steve Sharma are surprised by the vitriol of some of the comments made online about the change. He says the decision not to sell Russian vodka is designed to "Show support for a community we respect.

"We're not trying to pat ourselves on the back. We don't expect to sell more or less drinks (because of the change)."

While anonymous trolls haven't embraced the new policy, Sharma says that his regulars get it.

"Our crowd is so accepting," he notes. "The response has been really positive."

Even though none of their businesses are specifically LGBT bars, Sharma says "It never crossed our minds" that would be seen as a requirement for participating in the boycott.

Sharma estimates that seven or eight products are no longer available behind the bar as a result of the decision, but notes "We'll expand to fill the gaps with what our guests request. It won't decrease the quality of service."  

As part of its annual 1980s Prom Party on September 20, Dirt Bar will donate a portion of the proceeds to All Out, an international organization "created to give people everywhere the ability to help win equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in every country in the world."

Sharma feels the donation is "Something more tangible than a symbolic gesture." Look for more details as the event gets closer.