Days Before The Primary, Restaurant Bans Politicians

Tiffany Wan / Flickr

Despite NH's vaunted retail politics atmosphere, not everyone's up to shaking a candidate's hand over breakfast

It’s pretty much a given that when presidential candidates want to chat up the citizenry, they include a hearty portion of local restaurant stops in their schedules.  That’s especially true in an important early primary state like New Hampshire.  Footage of politicians smiling, shaking hands, and chowing down wings served by smiling waiters at Any Diner, USA, is a staple of TV political coverage.

Come to find out though, some of those waiters–and customers–aren’t amused.  Charles McMahon of writes:

“’No Politicians No Exceptions’ reads the sign taped to the entrance of Colby’s Breakfast & Lunch, a popular eatery on Daniel Street [in Portsmouth].

Employee Jessica Labrie, who made the sign and posting it on the outer door of the restaurant, said she posted it Tuesday in response to several complaints from customers.”

So far, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer have disturbed numerous meals since summer.  One of Labrie’s most compelling stories focuses on a visit from Perry and Bachmann.

“She said the visit was marred by overbearing campaign staff members who requested to reserve one side of the small restaurant despite there being only 10 tables in the entire establishment.

‘They said, ‘Just so you know you’ll have the pleasure of waiting on Gov. Perry and (Congresswoman) Bachmann. Don’t be nervous. Just be yourself and you’ll be fine.”

Labrie said she responded with, ‘I don’t know if you really want me to be myself.'”

McMahon quotes Labrie as saying she–and most of the Colby’s staff–are only a little interested in politics, anyway.  And owner Jeremy Colby is apparently behind Labrie’s decision.  Colby describes himself as a political liberal.  But he cites business concerns as the motivation from barring politicians from his establishment:

“‘I also find it amusing that they talk about how the economy and small business is so important, yet they are OK with creating a disturbance that impacts my small business.’

…Colby said…his business model is only successful if he is able to turn over its 28 seats in an orderly fashion. He said that is hard to do when a politician barges in and interrupts customers as they dine.

‘I don’t appreciate Joe Blow coming in here and whoring around the dining room for votes,’ he said.”

We’re filing that one under “food for thought” the next time we see generic TV footage of politicians reaching across steaming hot plates of chow to shake diners’ hands.


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