Just like the sign that hangs from Capitalist Pig restaurant suggests, owner Ron Buechele started a minor revolution on his Facebook page this week when he announced that someone at the city has a big pig problem with his sign.
"Apparently Joe McCarthy has risen from the grave," he wrote. "I had a long discussion this morning with a city official who informed me that the city along with the police department, have received 'numerous' complaints from individuals who do not like our sign, or the name of our business."
He went on to say he's been summoned to City Hall to defend himself. That had fans of the barely-two-month-old restaurant rushing to the barricades. (Capitalist Pig is located inside the Mad Art Gallery.)
"You should show up in a top hat and monocle," wrote one of dozens of commenters. "Do we need to get the Cherokee street presses to crank out Soviet era prop posters in solidarity?"
Oh, yes, please!
Here's the rest of Buechele's post:
Apparently they feel as if we are in some way connected to a left wing communist faction, that intends to give the red,white and blue, a black eye. I can't make this stuff up. I now have to go to city hall to defend my sign. The timing is nothing short of predominant. Barbecue, the food of the proletariat. Hurry up and get yours, before the man shuts us down......I have some free time next week, in case any of you malcontents want to come down and stage a protest. Nobody has done that yet.
Commenters rallied in support, saying it's a First Amendment issue and offering to protest, though one lone commenter agreed with the anonymous complaints, writing, "I admit that your name does sound like you are 'connected to a left wing communist faction, that intends to give the red, white and blue, a black eye', which is why I've chosen to not support your business. I thought it was weird that a person, partaking on capitalism, would use such a name."
We'll let readers parse the logic on that one.
We caught up with Buechele this morning to find out how the meeting at City Hall went. Turns out he met with one lone building inspector (his building inspector, with whom Buechele says he has a great relationship) who was responding to a complaint filed with the neighborhood stabilization officer at the St. Louis PD.
"The city doesn't really care. They're just the messenger," says Buechele. "What I can't figure out is who made the initial complaint."
Though the inspector was not specific, Buechele got the impression that the complaints are not as "numerous" as he was previously lead to believe. For now, he probably won't have to do anything (though now it's been pointed out that his sign should be affixed to the building, not hanging from a pole, zoning rules, BORING).
"It doesn't sounds like anybody making me remove the logo or the caption under the logo," he says. "Plus I think it's hilarious that anyone could confuse capitalism with communism."
And speaking of First Amendment rights, Buechele also wanted to clear up one other social media snafu from his week -- the airing of grievances that has been taking place on Capitalist Pig's Yelp page. After some pretty harsh reviews on the site, Buechele wrote a couple stung-sounding responses on Facebook.
"Someone recently suggested, on a social media site, that you could replicate our mac and cheese by merely using a kraft cheese product and adding nutmeg. Can you?" he wrote in one post, then later on "Hey gang, were servin up our controversial Mac and Cheese all week! While your at it, come on in and try the ribs that some guy called the 'worst,' 'saddest' and 'meatless' ribs he's ever seen."
Buechele says the sign issue is funny to him especially coming on the heels of the Yelp "silliness."
"I said so much of that stuff ironically, tongue-in-cheek. That's the problem with social media, you can't put intonation on it," he says. "I was never serious with any of that stuff. Anybody who knows me knows I'm the consummate practical joker."
Well, as much as we were looking forward to attending a pig-themed, BBQ free-speech party/protest, sounds like case closed. As for the mystery complainant, Buechele has only one thing to say.
"There's probably no punishment for them. Just being them, it's probably the worst thing that can happen to them."