Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 22, 2014

The Pug Loses Drink Fight

H Street Northeast bar the Pug will no longer serve a drink called “Marion Berry’s Dirty Asian Summer Punch,” after a D.C. commission called the drink’s name “racially offensive” and requested it be removed from the menu.

The drink, however misspelled, was named after Washington, D.C., Councilmember Marion Barry criticized Ward 8 Asian business owners for running “dirty shops” and later said hospitals employ too many Filipino nurses.

Tony Tomelden, owner of the Pug, said he came up with the drink to draw attention to Barry’s comments this year.

“I wasn’t doing it as a ‘I don’t want Asians to drink here’ move,” Tomelden said, adding that his father is of Filipino descent. “I was doing it to say, ‘Look what [Barry] said.’”

But after the D.C. Commission on Human Rights sent Tomelden a letter last week requesting the drink be removed from the menu within 72 hours or else face a “formal charge” and fines, Tomelden decided to pack it in.

“We believe that such a sign is not demonstrative of the shared values and practices that make the District a fully inclusive environment for all residents and visitors,” Commission Director Gustavo F. Velasquez wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the Washington Post.

Barry’s office did not return request for comment on the debacle.

Although he is miffed by the kerfuffle, Tomelden said he’s resigned to the outcome. He added that the drink was going to be taken off the menu anyway to pave the way for fall items, and with three kids and a business to run, he didn’t have the time or energy to take on the D.C. government.

“I don’t want to take on Marion Barry, he has a little more power than me,” Tomelden said. “But in my quiet little corner of D.C. where I have my throne, [the drink] was a reminder that someone said this.”

No word on whether former Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.), whose last name is actually spelled with an “e,” was offended.

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