Wednesday, June 04, 2014

You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun. Or A Burger, Apparently.

Following in the footsteps of Chipotle’s announcement of their a gun-free policy a few of weeks ago, other national brands like Applebee’s, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, and Wendy’s, have added something new to their menu: a request that patrons stop bringing automatic weapons into their establishments.

Now, biting the bullet, Chili’s and Sonic Drive-In have joined them, after finding themselves literally under the gun when members of the gun-rights group, Open Carry Texas, loaded for bear, walked into Texas-area outlets of Sonic and Chili's carrying assault rifles, their version of Pink Floyd’s “The Gunners Dream.” So Sonic and Chili's, following RZA’s suggestion that patrons “Put Your Guns Down,” both issued statements late last week requesting that customers keep guns out of their restaurants – even if they do have open carry permits. The rationale behind these new policies rests on the premise that – wait for it – weapons can create an uncomfortable atmosphere for other diners.

Wow! You think?

Brinker International who owns Chili’s said they were “dedicated to providing a safe environment for our guests and team members.” Sonic asked customers to "refrain from bringing guns onto our patios or into our outdoor dining areas." The request extends to the inside of the restaurant too, even if it is a Saturday night special dinner out!

Now we measure a lot of category values in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index – attributes, benefits, and values for nearly 100 categories and 900+ brands – and normally in columns like this we’d provide a list of quick-serve and casual restaurants and how they ranked according to how well customers saw the brands meeting their expectations regarding a particular category value. But in this case, we’re stumped! While we pride ourselves on a high caliber value inventory for our analyses, we overlooked the attribute “has a no-gun policy” in any of the restaurant – or retail categories, for that matter, that we track. Maybe it’s time we re-consider that.

Many retail businesses have taken to putting up signs reading “No Guns Allowed,” or “This Establishment Has a No-Gun Policy.” Signs reading “ Ties and Ammunition Bandoliers Optional” haven’t shown up yet, but last year Denny’s released a commercial, titled
“Greatness,” indicating that the right to bear arms is one of the critical values that makes this country great. Now before you go ballistic, the “Dad” in the commercial was apparently asking about one of their sandwiches. Still. . .

On their Facebook page, Open Carry Texas said it would "cease taking long guns into corporate businesses unless invited," because as every diner knows, nothing adds to a restaurant’s ambiance like a loaded automatic weapon. A post on the National Rifle Association’s Legislative Action website says: Demonstrators bringing long guns into Chipotle and Chili’s is really, really bad for business. And it’s starting to look “weird,” and it’s degenerating into “downright foolishness.” You think!?

If the Second Amendment activists would only listen to Johnny Cash, and “Don't take your guns to town,” nobody will have to to go into any restaurant and order this way: “I’ll have a burger, fries, small drink, and hold the deadly weapon, please.”

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