Rainey Street bar under fire for social media comments apologizes

UnBARlievable on Rainey Street (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
UnBARlievable on Rainey Street (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The owner of Rainey Street’s newest bar, UnBARlievable, is apologizing after customers claim he made rude and racist comments in response to online reviews. Now many are calling for a boycott.

“Two weeks ago I was out on Rainey with a couple of friends,” said Christian Rodriguez. “We were choosing where we were going to go out and someone suggested UnBARlievable and one of our friends said, ‘Yeah know, I had a really bad experience there a couple of months ago at SXSW, let’s go somewhere else.”

That friend wrote a Facebook review for the bar in March that reads, “First and last time going… table next to us ordered a lot of beers and the worker brought the beers out then put them in a shape of a swastika. Totally uncalled for and disrespectful. Told the owner and he did not care at all — horrible.”

The Unbarlievable Facebook account responded to the post by writing, “If you have feelings all complaints should be directed to our HR department. You can reach them at getf——@unbarlievable.com.”

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission confirmed it is investigating a complaint received on June 18 regarding Unbarlievable. The complaint centered on allegations of offensive imagery and language at the bar.

“TABC investigates all complaints related to allegations of discrimination or public safety concerns. We will continue this investigation to determine the facts of the case and once complete, we’ll determine what, if any, action is appropriate.”

Other customers have been sharing their reviews too.

In response to a Google Review comment about poor service and a bad margarita, someone claiming to be the owner replied:  “Since you had a towel on your head, my bartender thought you were the new busboy.”

The bar’s replies have since been deleted and their Yelp page is now being monitored.

Below is the apology statement from owner Brandon Cash:

It is with profound humility that I issue this heartfelt apology. To those who I have hurt and offended, I am deeply sorry. My words and actions were wrong, inappropriate and inexcusable.  They certainly don’t exemplify the values of a community that I love and care deeply about and my insensitive actions do not represent the views of my loyal and dedicated employees.”

“Austin has been my home for over 30 years and I have worked hard to create hospitality experiences that reflect our unique, fun-loving Austin culture and attract patrons and guests who appreciate it. Unfortunately, my own intolerable actions have contributed to a negative environment that has detracted from that culture and vision.  I fully realize that forgiveness may not come easily, but I am asking for it and I pledge to earn it.  I am going to work diligently to earn back the trust of my customers, my employees and this community.”

Cash owns two other bars in Austin including The Goodnight and Rooftop on Sixth Street as well as Rooftop on the Square in San Marcos. According to The Goodnight’s Facebook Page, the business says it has reached an agreement to buyout Cash’s remaining ownership and that he only had a “very limited non-operating interest” in the business.

Rodriguez is now organizing a press conference and protest on Friday night in response. “My goal isn’t to demean or say bad things about anybody related or not related to the bar who chooses to patronize it or not. My goal is just to share information and spread the word about what’s gone on so they can make an informed decision,” Rodriguez said.

Members of the community are holding a briefing at 1 p.m. on Friday to announce their intention to take action against the bar.

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