Two Montrose restaurants are under fire after a Facebook post from Mexican eatery Cuchara co-owner Charlie McDaniel was called out as racist by Houston musician Kam Franklin.
Franklin, who is the lead singer for beloved Houston band the Suffers, shared McDaniel’s post on Instagram Thursday afternoon. McDaniel posted to his personal account about Tuesday’s march in honor of George Floyd. “I assume now that social distancing, masks, etc are not required,” McDaniel wrote on Facebook. “Houston’s mayor and chief of police participated in a parade downtown with over 60,000 people and nothing was enforced. I guess that means I can open my business under the same standards?”
George Floyd is the longtime Houstonian who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last week. That officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with second-degree murder. Since Floyd’s death, demonstrations against police brutality have taken place in several cities across the globe. Houston’s demonstration on Tuesday was particularly large given Floyd’s connection to the city.
McDaniel co-owns Cuchara, a restaurant that is focused on Mexico City-style cuisine, with Ana Beaven, who is a native of Mexico City. McDaniel’s post was a reference to restrictions put into place by the state of Texas on restaurants and other businesses to limit the spread of coronavirus.
In the comments on McDaniel’s post, a person by the name of “Jessica Globe Trotrer” wrote that the Floyd marches “were themselves racist.” “Blacks kill more blacks than cops kill blacks. Cops kill more whites than blacks,” the user wrote. “Blacks kill more whites than whites kill blacks... Charlie probably thinks the marches are fucking stupid because they are.” Several people on social media have deduced that “Jessica Globe Trotrer” is an alias for Nourish Juice Bar owner Jessica Huffman, which Huffman confirmed when she issued an apology to the juice bar’s Facebook page.
Franklin was first alerted to the post by a Latinx friend who was too afraid to share it themselves for fear of repercussions, she said. Franklin, who is black, told Eater that she let the post sit for several hours, waiting for it to be deleted even as comments piled up, before taking to social media to call out McDaniel.
In particular, Franklin took issue with McDaniel using a demonstration that memorialized a dead man to center himself and his business. She also took issue with McDaniel’s characterization of the march as a “parade,” saying that Houstonians who participated in the march were putting their lives at risk in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If he was just talking about the protests and how he doesn’t agree with the rioting, I wouldn’t have said a fucking thing,” Franklin said. “Because there’s a bunch of people that feel that way and I ain’t got that kinda time. But what you’re not about to do is own a POC-branded business, and you want to talk about it as a white man, how these people are fighting for equality — true equality — when it comes to the way we are treated by police? You’re gonna call it a parade? Like it’s some kind of fucking show? Get the fuck out of here.”
Franklin said that after her post started gaining attention, a mutual acquaintance set up a phone conversation between her and Ana Beaven, the other owner of Cuchara. Franklin said she expected the conversation to be an apology, but instead, Beaven talked about how much the post had hurt her business, telling Franklin that Cuchara was a big supporter of the Houston community. “First of all, if you had led with an ‘I’m sorry’, I’d actually believe you,” Franklin said. “But you made it about you when I’m the victim.”
As of press time, neither Beaven nor McDaniel had responded to multiple requests for comment. On Thursday evening, though, McDaniel posted an apology to Cuchara’s business account on Facebook. Read that post in full below:
In a lengthy post on the Nourish Juice bar Facebook page, owner Jessica Huffman also addressed her comments on McDaniel’s post.
“I want to begin with an apology to my community and specifically the black community for the remarks I made on social media and for the hurt I have caused,” she wrote. “Please know that I truly do support the black community. I’m a firm believe that Black Lives Matter.”
It remains to be seen how the posts might affect Cuchara or Nourish’s business, but Franklin has a suggestion for how the restaurants might mitigate the damage.
“You need to apologize and you need to write a check,” she said, referring to several funds fighting police brutality and advocating for racial equality. “I believe you can bounce back from this with the right response.”