Montrose-favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, El Real, seemed to respond to the controversy surrounding its neighbor, El Tiempo, with a sweet marquee message.
(HOUSTON) – Montrose — Houston’s very own, historic “gayborhood” — is known for its bright lights, fun nightlife, well-attended events, and displays of grandeur. And no local business is quite the part of that as El Real Tex-Mex Cafe. Located at 1201 Westheimer just yards from the intersection of Montrose Blvd., El Real has been serving Montrose patrons for years and boasts a marquee even larger than that of the the historic River Oaks Theater … or even Trader Joe’s. Following the controversy that transpired when local Houston staple El Tiempo Cantina posted photos to all of the social media accounts for each of their restaurants featuring U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it would appear as if El Real is making a courageous statement regarding the topic of heated discussion.
Sunday, a photograph of El Real’s marquee was taken by Pride Portraits owner Eric Edward Schell and shared to social media, which read:
“Brunch sessions at El rEAL ARE ALWAYS CAGE FREE AND FULL OF RAINBOWS.”
The clever quip played not only on the separation of immigrant parents from their children — the latter forced into detention camps — but also reminded Montrose residents and frequenters of the LGBTQ community that at least one of their restaurants does not tolerate the bigotry of Sessions’ political stances and actions … while also boasting an ingenuity-filled nod at the U.S. Attorney General’s surname.
As About Magazine first reported late Friday evening (which was later picked up by national news outlets such as Newsweek), El Tiempo found themselves under fire amongst Houstonians (especially those who identify as LGBTQ and Latino) when the U.S. Attorney General entered the establishment for a meal Friday afternoon. After an outcry of backlash on social media (prompting the hashtag #BoycottElTiempo) due to Sessions’ stances on the LGBTQ+ community and his part in the separation of immigrant parents from their children, El Tiempo released a statement via their social media shown below:
Even after deleting the photograph of Sessions and executive chef Domenic Laurenzo, social media criers continued to insist that El Tiempo not be frequented. The logic lay two-fold: Sessions is an avid antagonist to migrant Americans from Mexico, as well as the fact that El Tiempo’s Montrose and Westheimer locations are usually visited by people of color and the LGBTQ community. Some even took to their social media to remind the restaurant chain that it was those two marginalized peoples that had kept the doors of the original El Tiempo open, operating, and expanding since 1998. El Tiempo soon closed down all its social media platforms and has remained hushed over this past weekend.
El Tiempo has been a popular Houston Tex-Mex chain since 1998, when Domenic Tiempo — eldest son of Houston restaurant legend “Mama” Ninfa Laurenzo, restaurant proprietor of the Mama Ninfa’s restaurants — opened the Richmond location. Mama Ninfa’s restaurants were in the Laurenzo family until the 1990s, when bankruptcy struck Laurenzo. Laurenzo was also at the helm of Bambolino’s, a popular Italian restaurant that went on to accrue a total of 17 locations.
Some were unsurprised by the photo, as the Houston Chronicle reported in 2016 that restaurant owner and brother to the executive chef, Roland Laurenzo, had expressed publicly his support for sitting-president Donald J. Trump. Cognizant of this fact or not, many previous patrons of the chain have sworn loyalty to not returning to El Tiempo.