UPDATE: Owner of Rainey Street bar Unbarlievable, accused of racism, apologizes

12:07 p.m Wednesday, June 28, 2017 Drinks

UPDATE, June 30: In a follow-up statement, Unbarlievable’s owner has called the outrage swirling around his bar a “wake-up call.”

UPDATE 7:30 P.M.: Unbarlievable owner Brandon Cash has apologized in a statement, pledging “to work diligently to earn back the trust of my customers, my employees and this community.”

“It is with profound humility that I issue this heartfelt apology,” he said in the statement. “To those who I have hurt and offended, I am deeply sorry. My words and actions were wrong, inappropriate and inexcusable. They certainly don’t exemplify the values of a community that I love and care deeply about and my insensitive actions do not represent the views of my loyal and dedicated employees."

The longtime Austinite added that he has “worked hard to create hospitality experiences that reflect our unique, fun-loving Austin culture and attract patrons and guests who appreciate it. Unfortunately, my own intolerable actions have contributed to a negative environment that has detracted from that culture and vision.”

UPDATE 6:45 p.m: The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating Unbarlievable following an unspecified incident involving “imagery” and “language,” according to KVUE. TABC officials received an email on June 18 about a situation that happened in March. 

A protest of the bar — under fire for allegedly making hateful comments online and not taking action over an anti-Semitic gesture — is planned for Friday evening. 

Additionally, Unbarlievable owner Brandon Cash is no longer associated with the Goodnight, another Austin bar.

The business announced on Facebook that it has “reached an agreement to purchase the remaining ownership of the individual,” in reference to Cash, who had “a very limited non-operating” stake in the Goodnight and whose prominent online tirades through Unbarlievable were threatening to affect business at the Goodnight through boycotts. 

“This is heartbreaking for us because we have nothing to do with any other bars or restaurants in Austin,” according to the Goodnight’s Facebook statement. “The Goodnight has been in business for nearly 5 years and has always conducted its operations to bring value & fun to our guests and amazing staff.”

EARLIER: Beers arranged in the shape of a swastika, profane language and derogatory insults toward customers — the alleged behavior of Rainey Street bar Unbarlievable, which opened this spring with a circus theme, might be the most unbelievable thing of all about the boozy concept.

Facebook and Reddit began to blow up last week with accusations of racism against the bar after a customer's Facebook review noting the swastika-shaped beer arrangement got attention online: “Table next to us ordered a lot of beers and the worker brought the beers out then put them in the shape of a swastika,” she wrote. “Totally uncalled for and disrespectful.”

Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman
Unbarlievable on Rainey Street on Wednesday June 28, 2017.

She said she brought the swastika to the attention of the owner, who she said didn’t care at all. But it’s the response of Unbarlievable to her review, since deleted from the site, that is also raising online furor.

“If you have feelings all complaints should be directed to our HR department. You can reach them at getfucked(at)unbarlievable(dot))com,” someone connected to the bar wrote through Unbarlievable’s Facebook page.

It now appears that all Facebook reviews of the bar have been disabled, although that hasn’t stopped angry users from commenting about the nasty behavior on Unbarlievable’s unrelated posts about a Fourth of July celebration and upcoming lobster boil. (There also appears to be a new Facebook page devoted entirely to the “Unbarlievably Racist Rainey Street Bar,” posting all of the since-deleted reviews.)

A recent Google review sparked additional backlash on Reddit overnight. After the user talked about the “ill-conceived and poorly executed” blend of circus theme and sports bar at Unbarlievable, a response that was labeled to have been from the owner said, among other things, that “since you had a towel on your head my bartender thought you were the new bus boy and handed you dirty dishes to wash.” 

The Statesman has not confirmed who is behind the bar’s social media.

Others have called the bar out on social media for similar reasons.

The owner is Brandon Cash, who is also proprietor of the Goodnight on Anderson Lane and the Rooftop on Sixth. We have a call out to him and will update this post with his response if we hear back from him.

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