Restaurant sign turns off some diners - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Restaurant sign turns off some diners

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

November 4, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - The First Amendment gives people the right to publicly express their opinions. But for one business owner, that right comes at a cost.

A restaurant's political statement turned away some customers-- and their money.

Lunch hour brought in a steady flow of customers at the Seminole Wind restaurant in Thomasville. But over the weekend, more than 20 people who walked in left only seconds later.

"There was a lot of controversy Sunday. That was the day people were coming up. I refunded about $165 from people that paid, came up here, saw the sign, and turned around, came back and asked for their money back," said restaurant owner Thomas Bryant.

The sign that sparked the controversy read: "The Democratic party equals abortion, equals murder."

That's Tom's message. "Some accused me of being racist," he said. "Some accused me of just being hateful. And I don't see that message.

That message has cost him almost $200 and cost his waiters a cut in tips, but his staff stands behind him.

"He's not a racist person," said the cook, Joseph Graham. "No. He loves everybody. They just misunderstood him, the way he goes about doing things."

"I'm a Democrat, and I vote Democrat most of the time," said Elba Garcia. "But I do believe that everybody has a right to their own opinion. I believe what he's stating here is more of spiritual statement, not a political statement.

"There's going to be people that turn around and walk out. But if you stand for God you can't fail," said waitress DeeAnne Hill.

"I felt that I needed to voice my opinion and what I felt on these issues that concern my faith. I think that people of faith don't voice their opinions quite enough," said Bryant.

So his opinion still remains, and despite the controversy, so does his faith, and his faithful customers.

Tom Bryant says they only had one customer ask for a refund Tuesday.

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