Ohio restaurant apologizes for Bruce Jenner inspired hot dog
(WCPO.COM) CINCINNATI, Ohio – Senate Restaurant issued an apology Monday, three days after it came under fire from local transgender advocates for naming its hot dog of the day the “Bruce Jenner 2.0.”
“We would never want to hurt anyone for the sake of selling a hot dog,” owners of the upscale hot dog joint and gastropub said on their official Facebook page Monday.
Senate’s special Bruce Jenner hot dog Friday was described as “part hotdog, part taco,” and came in anticipation of the Diane Sawyer 20/20 special that revealed Jenner was transitioning to a woman.
The one day only menu item was a hot dog split in half, sprinkled with cheese, tomatoes and lettuce, wrapped in a soft taco shell and drizzled with sauce.
“First and foremost we want to apologize to the transgender community,” Senate’s owners said on Facebook Monday. “We have always been strong allies to the LGBT community. We made a poor choice in describing our ‘Hotdog of the Day.’ It was highly insensitive and for that we are sorry.”
Senate’s owners initially described the hot dog as “Pure Awesomeness” on a Facebook post they later deleted Friday.
Today’s Dog of the Day is . . . The ”Bruce Jenner 2.0” it’s part Hotdog, part Taco & Pure Awesomeness.
Not everyone agreed.
Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay politician elected to City Council, said the menu item disappointed him.
“As much as I love the Senate team, the description of their ‘Bruce Jenner’ hot dog of the day made me cringe a little,” Seelbach said. “I understand that Senate’s daily hot dogs are supposed to poke fun at celebrities, but given that Bruce Jenner is possibly coming out as transgender tonight, and knowing how difficult that is, as seen with the suicide of Leelah Alcorn , I’m not sure I would have done with that description.”
Alcorn is a local transgender teen whose suicide led to international attention of transgender treatment.
Seelbach learned of the hot dog from a tweet on Senate’s official Twitter account. The tweet was later removed.
Joe Purdue, Senate’s manager on duty Friday, told WCPO the hot dog was all in good fun.
Senate has several hot dogs named after celebrities, including one called the “Lindsay Lohan.” It’s described on the menu as a beef dog with goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, balsamic and “tons of drama.”
“We just – we always poke fun at current events,” Purdue said. “We wanted to get something going with the (Jenner) situation.”
Senate co-owner Dan Wright told WCPO the “Bruce Jenner 2.0″ was “not a slight on the LGBT community.”
“We think Bruce Jenner is awesome and has a tremendous amount of courage to transition in the way that he has,” Wright said.
“We think that Bruce will influence countless others who might not of felt brave enough to do so in the past… We f***ing love the LGBT community. (The hot dog) is exactly what we said it is. Pure awesomeness.”
The majority of Senate’s followers on Facebook initially voiced no issues with the hot dog. One commenter called it “clever,” while another asked, “Is it served in a dress?”
A woman added, “I needed that chuckle. Thanks.”
But Seelbach wasn’t the only person with a negative response to the hot dog.
Lindsey Deaton, a transgender woman and local advocate for the transgender community, said her initial reaction was “Eww.”
She later wrote on her Facebook page, “Dear Senate: This is trans-phobic and bigoted. Remove this item from your menu immediately and apologize to the transgender community. Now.”
“Not good taste at all,” she added. “Pardon the pun.”
Senate responded to Deaton’s remarks on Facebook Monday.
“We aren’t bigots or transphobes, we never have been and never will be,” restaurant owners wrote. “We meant absolutely no malice. We are good people who made a bad decision in creating and describing our Bruce Jenner Dog of the Day.”
The owners said Friday’s hot dog was the second time Senate cooked a Bruce Jenner-inspired dog — the first was during “Olympic Hero Week.”
After temporarily closing Senate’s Facebook page Friday, Wright said all proceeds from the “Bruce Jenner 2.0″ would be given to a charity on Alcorn’s behalf.
Senate announced on its Facebook page Monday that charity was The Heartland Trans Wellness Fund.
“We think Bruce is incredibly courageous and his decision to transition will hopefully give others the strength to do the same.”