Let’s Go Role Playing for Dinner!

So a new upscale Mexican restaurant in the Castro has named itself “Bandidos”, and quite a number of people are finding the name offensive. The owners oh-so-cluefully responded at first by deleting all the criticisms from their Facebook page, a brilliant move that predictably got people even more annoyed and caused news of the matter to spread far beyond the Castro.

My first reaction was, huh? I remember the revolting “Frito Bandito” ads from my childhood, of course, but the word “bandido” by itself? I grew up in Orange County in the 1960s and 1970s, and I remember several common slurs used against Latinos, but not “bandido”.

Then I saw where the owners had posted this apology to their Facebook page, and I found my reaction changing:

Hi All, we appreciate your thoughts and feedback and are truly devastated that we’ve insulted anyone – as members of the LGBT community and neighborhood locals for over 15 years, we would never want to create a space where everyone does not feel welcome. We worked with many people on the creation of Bandidos, from many different racial backgrounds, and we all felt that the name evoked the spirit of an old-school place where badasses and outlaws would meet for one-too-many tequilas. We sincerely apologize to those who have been offended – our intention was never to discriminate or reference racial stereotypes and we hope that our community can see it as we do.

Amazing. In one and the same posting — in adjacent sentences, even — without any awareness of any irony, they wrote:

we all felt that the name evoked the spirit of an old-school place where badasses and outlaws would meet for one-too-many tequilas

and

our intention was never to … reference racial stereotypes

I hate to break it to you, guys, but referencing a racial stereotype is exactly what you were intending to do. Read what you yourselves wrote.

If you take a look at the website, you find that what the decor and menu in fact evoke is the spirit of a new-school place where affluent hipsters can drink $11 margaritas and maybe pretend to be badasses and outlaws — but cool, trendy ones. San Francisco was so needing another one of these.

I have no opinion on how offensive the word itself may or may not be to Latinos, but completely apart from that issue, given the kind of restaurant it is and the owners’ explanation, the choice of name does seem kind of creepy to me.

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