2021-10-16 11:12:30 UTC
Mexican Grill Inc., CMG +1.16% Starbucks Corp. SBUX +0.71% ,
and Sonic Corp. SONC +1.79% , a small but growing number of
independent restaurateurs around the country are rolling out the
Eateries like Shiloh Brew & Chew in Maryville, Tenn., are
posting signs saying guns are welcome. All Around Pizza and Deli
in Virginia Beach, Va., is offering discounts for patrons who
show up armed, while The Cajun Experience in Leesburg, Va.,
hosts "Second Amendment Wednesdays." At Shooters Grill in Rifle,
Colo., the waitresses pack heat.
"I believe in the right to bear arms, and as a small business
owner, who am I to take it away?" said Sharma Floyd, the owner
of Shiloh Brew & Chew. In May, she posted a small, paper sign in
the window of her restaurant noting that "guns are welcome on
premises," above a picture of a handgun. After a local
television station ran a story on Ms. Floyd's move in July,
business spiked, she said, largely due to an influx of diners
carrying concealed weapons.
Most states readily allow their residents to carry handguns
outside the home, either in a concealed or open fashion. But
private businesses have wide latitude to allow or restrict the
presence of firearms, and some, motivated largely by a perceived
anti-gun sentiment arising after the 2012 shooting in Newtown,
Conn., have decided to open their doors to guns and their owners.
Last year, Starbucks asked its customers not to bring guns into
its more than 12,000 cafes in the U.S. In May, Sonic, Chipotle,
and Chili's Grill & Bar made similar requests after participants
at gun-rights demonstrations brought rifles and semi-automatic
weapons into their outlets to advocate for the right to display
weapons in public. The chains didn't institute outright bans,
only requested that patrons leave them behind.
Some gun-control activists call the pro-gun efforts
irresponsible. "Restaurants routinely protect their patrons from
second-hand smoke, so it makes sense they would go out of their
way to protect them from bullets as well," said Shannon Watts,
the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America,
which has pressured larger companies to adopt more-restrictive
policies on guns.
Gun-rights supporters call such concerns overblown. "Gun-owners
are largely polite, tend to their own business, and are
responsible with their firearms," said Dave Workman,
communications director for the Citizens Committee for the Right
to Keep and Bear Arms.
Some gun-policy experts suspect that the niche of pro-gun
restaurants will grow, alongside some smaller chains that take
the opposite approach. Several small restaurants in Georgia, for
example, have adopted more-restrictive policies in the wake of a
new state law that allows people licensed to carry weapons
outside the home to bring them into some bars and elsewhere.
The restaurants actively inviting patrons to dine with guns say
they have experienced few problems related to firearms so far.
"Most that come in are responsible and have their guns
holstered," said Jay Laze, owner of All Around Pizza and Deli.
Last year, Mr. Laze began giving 15% discounts to diners who
either were carrying openly or had concealed-carry permits. "It
was good for business, and I've hopefully educated some folks on
the Second Amendment and the right to carry."
Bryan Crosswhite, owner of a The Cajun Experience, which gives
10% discounts on Wednesdays to those with guns, said he, too,
had experienced no serious problems with his program, adding
that he won't serve alcohol to patrons openly carrying. On
occasion, he said, people used his restaurant to showcase some
of their more serious firearms. "I had a guy show up with an AR-
15," he said. "I told him to go home."
Write to Ashby Jones at ***@wsj.com