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On Primanti Bros & Their Gun Policies

It’s been an interesting 24 hours in the Pittsburgh food world, that’s for sure. For several hours, Primanti’s refused to respond to customer questions about their staff who showed off their MAIG t-shirts calling for increased federal gun control at a MAIG tour event. Then the media found out and started nagging them. Since, you know, embracing gun control just a few short months before the NRA convention is coming to town seems like a really bad business plan if you want to actually see any economic benefit from said convention. In general, being in the Pittsburgh area with lots of gun owners, being anti-gun probably isn’t the world’s greatest business model.

Then, suddenly, Primanti Brothers pops up in the comments and starts registering at online forums to respond with a statement simply passing it off as an employee wearing a shirt of a visiting guest. Yeah, but that raises the question about why a business allows such a behavior if they don’t want to be dragged into this kind of stuff. (Their excuse on NRA News was that they are a small business & don’t micromanage. BS. You have nearly two dozen stores across two states, you’re not a minor business. Under Mayor Bloomberg’s food policies, they are a big enough chain to require menu labeling.)

In their NRA News interview, they said several things that I found to be a bit odd or, at the very least, unprofessional. First, they preemptively brought up that they do have a policy of asking open carry folks to cover up their guns if some other customer doesn’t like it. Now, why would want to invite that storm on yourself? While you’ve been telling people all day that you allow all kinds of carry, now your spokesmen has just voluntarily admitted that they’ll ask the legal gun toter to get it out of sight (he didn’t elaborate on what they do if the OC’er refuses) when he was asked a simple question of whether or not they allow carry at all. (Put the shovel away, folks. You’ve dug your hole plenty deep.)

The other thing they have done is remove pro-gun comments from their Facebook page & release comments. NRA convention attendees I’ve spoken with privately & seen discussing it elsewhere have also reported that they are then banned from commenting or liking anything on the page again. Yet, take a look at what anti-gun & anti-NRA comments are allowed to remain. (Click the image to enlarge.)

I first wondered if the pro-gun commenters were crossing the lines of civility. But surely then, that the anti-gun comment saying that NRA members are unreasonable, unintelligent, and impractical would also qualify as uncivil? Or if it’s politics about the issue they want to keep away from their Facebook page, then surely the statement that guns only kill people would also qualify for removal? You know, the many posts about what a shame it is that Primanti Bros can’t stand for gun control without being called out it by NRA members seem awfully numerous and odd to remain if they just want the issue to go away.

Finally, the spokesman said something else on NRA News that rubbed me the wrong way. He said that Primanti Brothers isn’t pro-gun. He used that specific wording. He didn’t say, “We don’t have a specific policy on gun control politics or legislation.” He said they aren’t pro-gun. He also added that they weren’t anti-gun. But would he honestly tell the ACLU in an interview that Primanti Bros isn’t pro-speech? Or pro-right to practice a religion? Or perhaps the newspaper covering their next big news that they aren’t pro-freedom of the press? The right to bear arms is a protected & fundamental right. It’s one thing to not want to weigh in on specific battles, but it seems awfully odd of him to say they are not pro-Bill of Rights. I’d hate to have been a woman around there when they opened in the 1930s. Perhaps it was too soon after suffrage to be safely pro-suffragette. Again, what an odd thing to say if your company really just wants the issue to go away.

The original question of their view on our rights still stands to some degree. They don’t seem to be out leading a campaign to ban guns alongside Michael Bloomberg. But, they do appear to be trying to silence their gun owning customers who try to leave any form of public commentary while leaving up numerous attacks on NRA & gun rights. I was not calling for an organized boycott, but just noting that for those who do care about where they spend their money, it might be a legitimate concern. I don’t think that concern has been completely alleviated for some people.

In the NRA News interview, Cam did ask permission to come out to the same location with NRA shirts in tow for the staff. They did agree, so that’s worth something.

25 Responses to “On Primanti Bros & Their Gun Policies”

  1. David says:

    Seems they need a new PR spin doctor. I’ll be spending my money at places other then Primanti Bros. I wonder if they’d ask a fat customer to leave or cover up if I asked?

  2. Bitter says:

    I don’t know, David. It’s not really a level I’d want to stoop to in arguing with them over that point. I do know that they left up a comment calling all of their customers “fatties” on their Facebook page. I debated capturing it for demonstration as a violation of any likely civility justification they were using to ban gun owners, but decided it wasn’t relevant to the larger point.

  3. BurghGunOwner says:

    First, I do have to thanks the very anti-gun-ownership Toldeo Blade (otherwise known as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette) for publishing a story about this. It was through their story that I found your blog.

    It seems that it’s okay to be anti-gunowners (especially by permitting employees to wear an anti-gun t-shirt and anti-gunners to work behind the counter) UNTIL you’re busted. Primati Brothers, you’re busted! I’m a Pittsburgh area resident who will not spend one more dollar of my hard-earned money at any of their restaurants.

    As to their denials, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.

  4. falnfenix says:

    i’m…pretty disappointed, honestly. guess Primanti’s will never see another dime from me!

  5. Nate says:

    I will eat at Primanti Bros. every day the convention is in town. Great sandwiches.

  6. Ian Argent says:

    Speaking of acting like a duck – they’re acting like a small business. It’s an incredibly lame pun but I’ll say it anyway, if they can’t stand the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen…

    (Also, my tweet concerning courge of their convictions – well, I guess I’ve been proved wrong)

  7. Yinzer says:

    Primanti’s was there before you and it will be there long after you’re gone.

    Oh NO! The NRA won’t eat there!

    God bless the interwebs for giving him a voice and a few sheep to follow him. Hilarity ensues.

  8. Yinzer says:

    By “him” I mean “Bitter”.

  9. Ed says:

    For the record.

    I “Liked” Primanti Brothers on Facebook yesterday and povided a link on their wall to the photos on the Fix Gun checks now Facebook page.

    The link I posted was deleted and one of their Facebook page admins decided I no longer “Liked” Primanti Brothers.

    I know that the Primati Brothers talking head on Cam & Company last night stated they are not pro-gun or anti-gun.

    So Primanti Brothsrs has no opinion on the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Contitution and Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

    Though through their one sided actions on their Facebook page, as pointed out by Sebastian, and codified by the removal of my post from their Facebook wall. It is very clear that they are anti-free speach.

    I wonder what Primanti Brothers opinion is on the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 7 of the Pennstlvania Constitution?

    Finally focusing on Primanti Brothers asking open carriers to cover the openly carriered sidearms.

    A customer exercising a civil right should not be asked to limit that right. Would Premanti Brothers ask the “Greensboro Four” to to leave? Is Premanti Brothers now the Woolworth’s lunch counter of Pittsburgh when i comes to open carry?

  10. David says:

    Oh the sock puppets, oh what fun. Please bitter, expose them. Lets see who the IPs come back to.

  11. Ed says:

    For the record.

    I “Liked” Primanti Brothers on Facebook yesterday and povided a link on their wall to the photos on the Fix Gun checks now Facebook page.

    The link I posted was deleted and one of their Facebook page admins decided I no longer “Liked” Primanti Brothers.

    I know that the Primati Brothers talking head on Cam & Company last night stated they are not pro-gun or anti-gun.

    So Primanti Brothsrs has no opinion on the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Contitution and Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

    Though through their one sided actions on their Facebook page, as pointed out by Sebastian, and codified by the removal of my post from their Facebook wall. It is very clear that they are anti-free speach.

    I wonder what Primanti Brothers opinion is on the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 7 of the Pennstlvania Constitution?

    Finally focusing on Primanti Brothers asking open carriers to cover the openly carriered sidearms.

    A customer exercising a civil right should not be asked to limit that right. Would Premanti Brothers ask the “Greensboro Four” to to leave? Is Premanti Brothers now the Woolworth’s lunch counter of Pittsburgh when it comes to open carry?

  12. johnnysquire says:

    Maybe all you out-of-town football fans should boycott every restaurant in Pittsburgh that can be painted as pro-Steelers. McDonalds will probably come out as neither pro-Steelers or anti-Steelers, but I have pictures of a fry cook wearing black and gold last Super Bowl week, so that’s not good enough.

    While you’re at it, Christians should stay out of Squirrel Hill restaurants – they’re pro-Jewish there. They’ll claim they aren’t, but I’ll bet they will ask a neo-Nazi to cover up his swastika tattoos if some bubbie complains.

    Seriously – the fatty sandwich people gave their official non-position. I suggest moving on before it starts to look like wingnuttery.

  13. Adam Z says:

    Listened to their quakey-in-the-voice-Chief-Operating-Officer (Mr. Teklinski) last night with Cam on NRAnews. The guy was literally pooping in his pants as he realized that he needed to say something in order to cover Primanti Bros and the awful gafe that they made with MAIG. Cam was gracious enough not to really lay into the guy (since he probably sensed that the guy was nervous as hell) and let the guy off the hook with the question of would PB be willing to have staff pose for pictures with NRA T-Shirts on. Of course, the guy being on NRAnews, said yes. You can hear the interveiw here by clicking on the Weekly Archives and selecting Apr 26.

    http://www.nranews.com/#/nranews

    Not only was Mr. Teklinski trying to cover their butts about losing potential business during the NRA convention but also I think he was realizing that they might lose continuing business in the Pitt area once word gets out about their squishy-we-didn’t-mean-anything-by-it photo op and the rolling MAIG billboard train that parked for a while in their parking lot.

    As stated in this post, PB have a combined 20+ locations in PA and FL – they ain’t no Mom-n-Pop shop. Yeah, and it didn’t exactly send a tingle down my leg when I heard Mr. Teklinski said he would ask a patron to cover up their lawfully carrying gun if another patron was “uneasy” about someone carrying.

    These guys are just too wishy-washy-squishy-in-the-pants for me. They are going to let Cam/NRA members come in this wknd and have their staff pose with NRA T-Shirts on…but when Mayor Daley of Chicago or the Brady Campaign rolls into town, they will probably pose for pictures with them too which will be posted on the Brady Campaign or CSGV website. No spine = No Money.

  14. Jake says:

    Actions do speak louder than words – and right now I can’t hear what they’re saying because their actions are drowning them out.

  15. David says:

    johnnysquire

    You’re just not getting it. Primanti Bros did not earn my money. I still can choose where to eat and I won’t be eating any more of their sandwiches.

    Furthermore. Any place in Pittsburgh who was foolish enough to hang a Packers flag outside gets what’s coming to it.

  16. Ian Argent says:

    Along the lines of the Packers comment – I hope one day to see a Super Bowl between the Steelers and the Eagles, just so I can see the open warfare around about Lancaster Co…

    Even more fun would be a Jets/Giants Super Bowl in 2013. From an appropriately safe distance, say, Maryland.

  17. Bitter says:

    I would actually never hold sports allegiances against a place if it served good food. Case in point, Eskimo Joe’s. I forgive them for being in Stillwater & catering to OSU fans. (I severely dislike professional sports, and I think many Philadelphia team fans are damn near criminal in their behavior at games.)

    This is a case where I have the right to decide how my money is spent. There’s no obligation for me to spend my money at one restaurant. I don’t owe it to Primanti Bros. to spend a dime there. I have the option to spend it anywhere. If I happen to know a place treats gun owners poorly or supports restrictions on my rights, I generally opt to spend my money elsewhere. In this case, I would say that their initial response of banning gun owners from their Facebook page while leaving up some pretty vile comments about NRA members constitutes “not treating gun owners well.”

    The beauty of my view is that I fully support an open market. If Primanti Bros. wanted to call for the elimination of gun ownership, I would say it is their right to disagree with my views, and it’s my right not to give them money. If they said they fully supported the Second Amendment, then I’d say it is their right, and it’s my right to give them money. There is more than one place to eat in Pittsburgh. I managed to survive the 2004 NRA convention there without ever having heard of Primanti Bros or eating there, and I still ate very well that year. I look forward to enjoying many of Pittsburgh’s other offerings again this year.

    The beauty of freedom is that I don’t always have to agree with people. They don’t have to agree with me. I’ll generally stay out of the way of people who are hostile to my beliefs, and I simply share information to an audience I know has many members who do share my views on how they spend their money.

    Unlike anti-gun protestors who try to surround businesses or harass business owners to the point of arrest, I have zero interest in making a big show of the choice not to spend money there. I’m not having flyers made up or going to wear pro-Philly cheesesteak t-shirts in protest. I simply expressed an opinion, based on evidence that their staff cooperated in providing, that they may be supporting Bloomberg’s anti-gun tour, and that I don’t really feel the strong desire to eat there if that’s the case. Even though they may not have intentionally helped the event, they still have behaved, in my opinion, unprofessionally toward gun owners which leaves me lacking any serious desire to go spend money there. If those of you coming here to hate on anyone who doesn’t love Primanti’s can’t accept the simple premise that I can spend my money where I see fit, then I don’t think we have much more to say to one another.

  18. BurghGunOwner says:

    Here’s an easy way to tell the sock puppets and those here only because the Toledo Blade (Post Gazette) featured a story saying that *all is now well at Primanti Brothers*:

    -anyone indicating that they’re upset with Primanti’s is called a loser
    -the new government-sounding line is *you’ve said what you have to say, people, now move on … move on .. nothing more here to see or say*
    -the NRA is only in town this weekend and things will return to normal *when theyre gone* (sorry, but the NRA membership is this state is quite possibly their biggest state membership, so even when the convention is gone *the NRA will still be here!*)

    But I really must thank them for the amusement.

  19. Jeremiah says:

    You guys are being a bunch of babies. Guns scare the ignorant, and a restaurant doesn’t want scared customers. If you can’t handle a business acting on the realities of the market, then you are not much of a conservative. Crybaby 3:16 “If thou art ashamed of me on Facebook, I shalt be ashamed of thee in Pittsburgh”

  20. Ian Argent says:

    Primanti management is trying to appear to have it both ways, while passively supporting the anti-freedom side.

    Honestly, I don’t have a side in this fight; I’ve said in the past and I’ll say it again – I make decisions on who I do business with based on their rep in that business. Just as I don’t want my work judged on my political opinions, I’ll respect the right of other people (in and out of business) to have political opinions that may not match my own.

    I’m none too impressed with how the Primanti management is handling this brouhaha, though. Either shut up, or admit to supporting a side. They have the ability and right to control posts to their Facebook page; but censoring one side and not the other reflects poorly on their judgement.

  21. WhoCares says:

    Seriously?

    I’m a lifelong hunter and gunowner. I’m also a supporter of Pittsburgh business. I’m not a particular fan of Primanti Brothers food but I will be eating there this weekend.

    I could cares less about the politics of a sandwich shop. Ridiculous.

  22. Fred says:

    A sandwich is a sandwich. An employee’s first amendment rights are as prescious as a customer’s second amendment rights. If the reaction of the latter is to excercise first amendment rights by avoiding the sandwich, that’s a choice too that must be protected as strongly as that of the employee. The loss of calories is their own and we will all miss the pleasure of their company.

  23. Ian Argent says:

    There is no first amendment implication here; except in that the first amendment protects the right for non-governmental individuals or organizations to call for a boycott for whatever reason they desire.

    Debate that without dragging the constitution into it.

    (There’s not really a second amendment implication here either – AFAICT they’re not banning carriage in their stores without taking effective precautions)

  24. Prophet says:

    That’s odd about asking OC’ers to cover their firearms. I’ve eaten at Primanti Brothers Hundreds of times while OCing in Oakland and in Southside and I never had any issues from the workers there.

    Usually its a conversation starter by someone curious about either what im carrying or the laws surrounding it. Always a good experience. If I was asked to cover it or put it in my car I would simply ask for my money back and no longer patron their establishment. Time will tell if it comes to that though I hope not, they make a helluva good roast beef and cheese sandwich.

    I wish I wasn’t too tired last night or I wouldve posted my OC experience in Primantis…maybe I wouldve been quoted in the Post Gazette too.

  25. David says:

    I’ve changed my rather vocal mind. I’m going to make it a point to eat at as many Primanti Bros as I can. And, going against personal belief, I will OC at each and every one of them. In fact everyone in my party will be OC’ing – no alcohol of course (I don’t drink anyway). Lets see just how neutral the Bros stay.

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