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When do ethics come to play in your dining decision?

I've been mulling this over for a couple of weeks. I thought maybe I'd toss it out on Chowhound and see what other hounds think.
I couple of years ago I heard a rumor that a local restaurant allowed a celebration in honor of a highly despised world figure. The person who first told me about it seemed reliable. I didn't give it much thought. I haven't eaten at the place in years because of food quality issues any way.
Then I heard the story again from another person. The explanation attached to it this time is that it was a one time thing. Apparently the owner knew in advance what the celebration would be.
I help coordinate dinners for a dining group and this restaurant has been suggested as a destination.
Even if it was a one-time thing, if it was true that this restaurant knowingly hosted a dinner for this figure is enough to get them crossed off my list forever.
So where do hounds draw their ethical lines?
Some people make a big deal out of free-range chickens and how they want to eat only free-range meat. Most chickens go to market at age 7 weeks. So if you take away the time they are protected when they are young and the final two weeks of their life when they are kept penned up to fatten them up, a typical chicken has about 2 weeks to spend on the range, and most are too stupid to walk out the door. So free range chickens mean nothing to me, but obviously they do to others.
One Chinese (Americanized, otherwise I'd say Taiwanese) restaurant here used to proudly display pictures of Chiang Kai-shek. It reflected the owner's anti-Communist attitude. It turned me off because I considered Chiang Kai-shek to be corrupt (he was a Communist himself when it suited him politically) and because I was unhappy that he used all the American aide during World War II to prop up his own government and not fight the Japanese. But truthfully, if the food had been special there, I would have overlooked those objections and happily eaten there.
So when do ethics come into your choice of places to eat?

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  1. I won't eat at a restaurant that stiffs its workers: skimming tips, not paying delivery people for overtime, that sort of thing.

    14 Replies
    1. re: small h

      Sounds a lot like what Mario Batali just settled a $5+ million lawsuit over. See:


      Makes me want to think twice about patronizing his restaurants. What do other CH's think?

      1. re: josephnl

        Yes, that's a fine example, although I'm not pure of heart enough to promise that I'll never again eat at a Batali restaurant. Proof of impurity: I can now comfort myself with the knowledge that Batali has ceased the practice, so I can eat at Babbo with a clear conscience, as soon as someone offers to pick up the check.

        Here's an illustration of the other scenario I mentioned:


        1. re: josephnl

          Well, in the first case you mentioned, since the reports were only hearsay, and the group really wanted to go, I'd go with it.
          Free-range, organic deals to me, knowing what is and is not available in our area, may have some impact. I gladly order scallops at one place because I know they are literally just off the boat locally.
          In the last case, I would have to consider that maybe to the owners, Chiang Kai-shek was a hero. To many he was and to you he is not.
          I would not eat in a political office nor do I eat in church. So if a diner became such, I would avoid it.
          Chains like Chick-Fil-A, I would avoid like the plague, as I know they would not give great customer service to members of my group, nor would they hire them.

            1. re: linguafood

              I am sure a discussion on those lines would be deleted by the Mods, so I will only say a google search would lead to some articles.

              1. re: Quine

                Did a search, I'm never ever going there. Never been, they aren't in my area, but if I see them in my travels, they're OFF the list. Sickening I think....sorry this happens this day and age.

                1. re: freia

                  I've eaten at Chik Fil A a couple of times in Arizona several years ago abd have not returned. I have not gone back to Chik Fil A, not because of any perceived political faults, but because I was not impressed with the food.

                2. re: Quine

                  Well, I've heard they take their "Christian values" quite seriously, which apparently makes them homophobe asshats. Which is also why I don't eat there, personally.

                  I just thought you were referring to some special group of which I wasn't aware.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    I thought the group may have been "vegetarians" though I now realize it is not.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Calling Chik-Fil-A homophobic asshats is one way of putting it but I will not patronize any business, restaurant or otherwise, that discriminates against any group because of their religious or a social agenda.

                      I agree with the OP and wouldn't patronize that business. They have the right to celebrate anyone they that want but I also have the right to spend my dollars elsewhere.

              2. re: josephnl

                that's why i won't patronize his restaurants.

              3. re: small h

                unless you, or somebody you know, works there, how would you get this info before a lawsuit hit the media?

                as a restaurant lifer, this is far more common than you might like to believe.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  <unless you, or somebody you know, works there, how would you get this info before a lawsuit hit the media?>

                  I've seen workers picketing outside restaurants (Saigon Grill and the Central Park Boathouse, notably). Otherwise, yes, I read about the lawsuits.

                  1. re: small h

                    by the time a lawsuit has hit the papers, the egregious behavior has likely been going on for years.

                    i know people who have taken part in successful class-action suits, mostly against higher-end chains, like morton's.


                    i have worked for independent chef-owners who have done it, but being part of a small staff, we never had the resources to get going with a lawyer.

                1. Politics have no place in my dining choices.......I stay away from owners who are simply As*h*les, There was one celebrity chef that forced his employees to wear his choice for an election......I will no longer frequent his place no matter how good his food is. There's a difference in someone being in business and and someone in business forcing his views upon you.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: fourunder

                    i, also, will not patronize any place that in any way forces it's employees to support or work against any particular candidate.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      I believe what you suggest is also against labor law.

                      1. re: John E.

                        i would hope so, but this last presidential election there were many news stories about CEOs who threatened their employees with the loss of their jobs if a particular presidential candidate were to win.

                        in my eyes, this is unconscionable coercion, not to mention that realistically, it is improbable that their employees would be able to swing a national election.

                        i haven't heard of the Labor Relations Board actually prosecuting anyone over these threats.

                        1. re: John E.

                          That didn't stop the fat guy in orange clogs....

                          1. re: fourunder

                            I must have missed that. What candidate did he force his employees to support?

                    2. I'll say that Facebook is changing this for me for sure. By "liking" certain chefs and/or restaurants, their posts of course now come up in my news feed. When someone who is completely on the opposite end of the political spectrum as me is regularly posting vitriolic, nasty and untrue (aren't they all?) posts about someone who is on my side of the fence who holds or is running for office, I find it very distasteful. I find that after seeing a dozen or more of these posts, including how "stupid" and "sheep" like people are who support whichever office holder/candidate, it makes me really not want to go to their restaurant anymore to keep them in business.

                      I already try to vote with my money as much as possible with what I know, and learn more all the time. I support businesses and establishments that I know tend to throw more of their political donations behind those people and causes that are ones I believe in. I go out of my way to shop at restaurants that source locally and with transparency so that I can easily find out what farms/sources they are getting their food from. I think the FB thing is just another step in that direction - and frankly, think that chefs/restaurants should not post that kind of stuff on their FB wall. You never know who you are offending, and whose dollars you will now avoid. But maybe they don't want my money since I am not of the same mind and heart that they are.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        I couldn't agree more. Keep your opinions to yourself, and so will I.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          I agree with you, EWS, but the problem is those who prefer the thought, "Keep your opinions to yourself and let me shove my opinions down your throat and if you don't agree with me afterward you're a ____phobic!"

                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                            Wow, I encounter too much of that, at least from a certain segment of our society.

                            Luckily, I can just choose to not spend much time with such folk, though not always.


                          2. re: rockandroller1

                            That seems like a very bad use of business social networking... they should save that stuff for their personal pages not their businesses'. I probably wouldn't stop frequenting a restaurant just because I happened to hear the ownership had different political views than mine, but if they insisted on using their facebook page that way it would be enough to turn me way off.

                          3. There is a local diner that does extensive display of their political views. They are serious tea party people. I stopped going when they started doing that. But the food wasn't great to begin with...it was a place where I'd get a grilled cheese and fries a couple of times a year.

                            OTOH, Chick-Fil-A has different views than I do, but I am a huge fan. Part of that is because they have great customer service and by all accounts treat their employees well. I can overlook some things for waffle fries ;-)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                              Perhaps they treat their employees well - IF they hire them, that is. Check this out: http://nyulocal.tumblr.com/post/18913...

                              These guys go beyond sleazebaggery in my book, I can't bring myself to set foot in the place (not that I eat much junk food anyway, but I spit on them in principle).

                              1. re: BobB

                                But you do realize that the flier is a hoax and not an actual hiring flier from CFA?

                                Not to say that aren't asshats, and the info isn't true. And I think it's pretty cool that students are protesting to keep them from their campuses.

                                1. re: viperlush

                                  I thought I read that the flyer was a hoax/part of an NYU student protest- but based on http://gawker.com/5747111/anti+gay-fa... I can see why they've developed such a bad rep.

                                  1. re: maplesugar

                                    That gawker article ends on a particularly ironic note, when it says, "Take a stand for gay rights and good taste: Eat a Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich."

                                    Not too many years ago, Wendy's made headlines for pulling its advertising from the TV show Ellen when Ms DeGeneres came out. Of course, the author MAY have known that...

                                    1. re: BobB

                                      Yes, irony can have a very bitter taste.


                            2. A local restaurant owner was part of a tax scandal. They had purchased accounting software which randomly removed cash sales to create the impression that they had much lower revenues. They were caught and fined and the list of restaurants was published in the paper.

                              We loved the food and the restaurant is close to our home but we could not make ourselves go there again. They got all the benefits of conducting business in our community but tried to shirk out of their obligations. Our friends feel the same. It has been 8 years.

                              1. We rarely eat out both for economic reasons and because there are only a few good restaurants within walking distance. One serves a wonderful Chilean Sea Bass, but that is an overcaught fish so I won't eat it. Still eat there periodically, but I won't order that dish. At home, we try to stick with sustainable meat/fish.

                                1. I don't believe I've ever been aware of a political issue arising over a restaurant. Owners are not generally stupid enough to be overtly political and risk alienating sections of the customer base.

                                  I try, whenever possible, to be ethical in my food choices but it is usually impossible to be as careful as at home. It is usually easy to avoid known over-caught fish and, similarly, I would not order veal without knowing in which country it had been raised. But I will eat factory raised chicken in a restaurant if the dish sounds good, whereas at home, I would never buy it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Harters

                                    There's a flower shop whose former owners used to post extreme political vitriol on their sign out front. Guess what. Business got so bad they were forced to sell it, and the current owner, who keeps the sign out front flower and holiday related, has been doing just fine ever since.

                                  2. Well, I know this is probably too lowbrow for chowhound, but when I was still a kid and ordering pizza on a saturday night was considered a luxury.... Domino's rubbed me the wrong way when there was a lot in the news about the owner's support of several right-wing, anti-abortion groups. That was back in the day where there were some high profile shootings of doctors.

                                    And yes.... if I knew some wonderful restaurant was suddenly having a "special party" for an exiled war criminal/drug smuggler/fascist etc..., I would probably take my business elsewhere.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: violin

                                      I was going to say the same thing, violin. I don't eat fast food pizza personally, but I do work for a non-profit that regularly has meetings of volunteers where we'll often get some cheap pizza for everyone and I will still go out of my way to make sure it's not from Dominos.

                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                        If you're refering to the Tom Monaghan who backed conservative causes, did you know that he sold the company in 1998? Domino's is a publicly held company so the owners of it are a broad dispersed group of shareholders. For all you know if you own sares in a mutual fund, you may indirectly own a piece of the company. Domino's doesn't back any cause other than selling more crappy pizzas.

                                        1. re: Bkeats

                                          Haven't you heard? Dominoes has reformulated their recipe!

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            Still won't eat it and it has nothing to do with any cause other than taste. Give me Keste or give me death! ;)

                                      2. re: violin

                                        i'm in complete agreement about dominos.
                                        (btw, Dr. Tiller was assassinated in his church in 2009, which to these old eyes arent' <<back in the day>>.
                                        to me, 2009 is RIGHT NOW.

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          Dominoes was sold 11 years before 2009. You certainly are entitled to dislike Dominoes pizza, but not really for their political views. Unless I missed it, the owners of Domioes Pizza have kept their politics to themselves. (See the post above written by Bekeats, March 2012.)

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            that's good to know in case i ever move to a place where dominos is the only/best source of pizza. (obviously i had missed Bekeats post)

                                            right now i live in los angeles which offers some really good pizzas at the neighborhood level, and really excellent pizza at the $15-for-a-14 inch-pie level.

                                            hoping not to have to have to go back to the dominos level in my lifetime, but you never know. . . .

                                      3. There is a local restaurant (not small, pizza place) that sued a small local mom & pop (pizza shop) for having a "too similar name." IMO - the names were not that similar & they were far enough away from each other to not cause confusion. I will no longer go to the "big named place" due to their lack of ethics IMO.

                                        Same with a place in Philly now suing a resto in NC - if I ever get the chance, I will purposely avoid the Philly restaurant.

                                        1. I don't inquire into a restaurant owner's politics, but when he/she forces the issue, I don't ignore it.

                                          There used to be a dive just south of Dupont Circle here in DC that had really good old-fashioned chicken baskets. I went maybe once every couple of months, until they declared one section of the place the "Rush Room", and piped in Limbaugh on the sound system. Never went again--couldn't imagine I'd have any appetite.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: bcarter3

                                            Maybe it was a room set aside for purging?

                                            1. re: bcarter3

                                              The 'Rush Rooms' in some restaurants were something that occured about 15 years ago (or more) at the peak of Limbaugh's popularity. I would guess that few if any exist today. There is a supper club near our home that used to have such a room at lunchtime but have not had it for over ten years, or so I'm told because we have not eaten there in years, not because of the Rush Room, but because the food was mediocre.

                                            2. Grocery shopping-wise, I do my best to avoid brands owned by enormous, corrupt conglomerates (Nestle, Kraft, etc.). Their business practices are ugly. Unfortunately these companies are so ubiquitous that they are sometimes unavoidable :(

                                              Restaurant-wise, I don't patronize any of the Darden restaurants because I don't like some of the causes they support, but we're talking Olive Garden and Red Lobster, so this isn't difficult.

                                              There is also a very highly regarded non-chain Italian restaurant here (northern Delaware) that I won't support because the owner actually stole many of his recipes from my family. Years and years ago, he asked my aunt and grandmother to write down all of their traditional southern Italian recipes, as they were just so good and he wanted to duplicate them for his own family. Soon after that he opened his restaurant, claiming the recipes as his own. No joke. My family has never called him out (how could you prove it?), but we won't eat there either.

                                              I've read from reviews that his (or his chef's -- whoever) cooking skills have gone downhill in the past few years. Shame.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Rilke

                                                Fellow Delawarean here...I'm intrigued. Any hints?

                                                1. re: Pollywantsacracker

                                                  Ahhh, I'm tempted, but I don't want to start something.

                                                2. re: Rilke

                                                  one of my former roommates worked for olive garden.
                                                  what a scumbag operation (in so many ways).
                                                  as soon as my roommate got settled here, she got a much better job elsewhere.

                                                3. Ethics never come into my dining decisions. If it tastes good to me, I eat it.

                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: wadejay26

                                                    Really! So, if Hitler owned the best German restaurant in the U.S., you'd eat there?

                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                      Huh? Are you sure you could not come up with an example that is actually possible?

                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                        Of course it's just hyperbole...in response to someone who says that ethics never comes into question. To quote "if it tastes good to me I eat it". So, my obvious exaggeration is in essence asking wadejay26 whether or not he truly means what he says.

                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                          Oh I understood your point but I get tired of Godwin's Law being invoked so often. I thought Chowhound was the one website where I would not have to see it proven to be true.

                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                            OK. So, if Assad owned the best Syrian restaurant...

                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                              I assume you meant to post this in response to wadejay.

                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                I stand by my statement. It's all about the food for me.

                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                            OK -- What about Maurice's Piggy Park in the heyday when the owner was in the forefront of the fight ag'in' the Civil Rights Movement? http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/29/us/...

                                                            1. re: jmckee

                                                              'What' about Maurice's Piggy Park?

                                                                1. re: jmckee

                                                                  I don't know anything about the place. I didn't go to your link because I am quite sure you meant the reply for someone else, wadejay perhaps.

                                                      2. I am sure that I am not aware of the ethical issues surrounding the restaurants I choose. When I become aware that they are in conflict with my own values and ethics- I won't give them my money. My integrity is more important than any dish they could serve me. However, I don't go out of my way to search out conflict, if it comes to my attention- it is probably pretty "big".

                                                        1. Well, I don't eat out much, but ethically speaking, I try to eat at restaurants that provide, good quality food made from good, quality ingredients. I try to avoid chains and try to stick with local restaurants as much as possible.
                                                          I haven't experienced too many political issues at local restaurants. I do recall eating at one place where the owners/chefs were new to our country, and they had a big photo of Trudeau (one of our former prime ministers) on the wall (which is unusual here, to have political photos on walls) and I didn't ascribe to Trudeau's political party nor views. But I understood that Trudeau was really a champion for immigration and for extending refuge to peoples of other countries and the photo was more of a "thank you" than a "vote Liberal" comment. I still ate there, happily, and made sure I brought a crowd.
                                                          As for food sourcing, well, as long as I'm comfortable with the owners and trust what they are serving, I don't get too wrapped up in the other stuff.

                                                          1. A number of years ago a fast food chain pulled an add series because the person in the add made a public announcement about her personal life. They said the statement didn't reflect their view of the world, and they didn't think it reflected their patrons. I decided they didn't want my money, and I still won't eat there. Most of my friends think I'm nuts on this issue. The only way to vote about a business is with my dollars, although now there is Facebook and websites....

                                                            1. I draw the line at eating dogs.

                                                              1. I stopped going to an old favorite bar when it was reported that the staff kicked out two men for kissing. While the owner didn't recall the specific incident, he did go on record as saying he wouldn't allow that in the first place. So yeah, I'm not giving someone like that my business.

                                                                I keep one of these pocket guides in my wallet so I can make better-informed choices when ordering seafood.


                                                                1. Interesting question! In one sense business is business and in the land of the free anyone should be allowed to host a dinner as long as it is civil and legal.
                                                                  I own a small retail business but not a restaurant. If I did own a restaurant I would decline a celebration for a group or person I found vile. I would be within my rights to do so.
                                                                  Otherwise: We avoid chains when practical and patronize local places that appreciate our business.
                                                                  We live out on the East End of LI and do our best to avoid the restaurants that are only open for the Summer months. The other places need our $$$ year round and we appreciate their struggle thru the slack season.
                                                                  I can only remember two restaurants I avoided: One place in E Hampton was owned by a local man who was unpleasant and not a "nice guy".
                                                                  The other E Hampton "cafe" was a favorite for weekend breakfasts. They have eggs "benny" on the regular menu. My son and I love eggs "benny". When we went out for breakfast on a rare Monday we were told "We only make eggs Benedict on Saturday and Sunday for the weekend people!" Go figure? Is Hollandise sauce that hard to make?

                                                                  1. I won't eat in any restaurant that displays a swastika.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: beevod

                                                                      You might come across that in various parts of Asia. Swastikas are not rare in Buddhist vegetarian restaurants, as they are Buddhist religious symbols and have so for a couple of millennia.

                                                                      1. re: limster

                                                                        Hindu and Jain also. We saw plenty when touring ancient sites in India. It was originally a good luck symbol.

                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                          I'd probably cross the street to avoid walking in front of it.

                                                                      2. Look up the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm the deals with the Palestinian Chicken Restaurant.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                          Hysterical! Chicken so good it could settle religious conflict.

                                                                        2. I don't buy any products from Newman's Own or Ben and Jerry's. They have given financial support to Mumia Abu Jamal, a convicted cop killer. Cherry Garcia sure is good but it's not worth giving my money to them.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                            While I almost never let someone's politics affect my decisions on anything other than politics, I agree with your post.

                                                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                                                              Ben & Jerry's is owned by Dutch conglomerate Unilever. Does this mean that you don't buy *any* of Unilever's products? If not all products, how do you draw the line?

                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                I don't agree with the Free Mumia stuff either (I've actually researched the case) but I don't let that stop me from eating ice cream ... either way that guy isn't getting out of jail ever.

                                                                              2. I use my patronage all the time to support businesses that reflect my own personal, political, and/or ethical values and avoid those that don't. I don't actively seek them out, and in the past I've found that places I really liked had values that were not consistent with my own...so I stopped going there. There have been a few businesses that I didn't really care for, but when I found out more about their political and business inclinations, decided I would support them more.

                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ricepad

                                                                                  I haven't finished the chain, but I think you're the only response I noticed that said you have supported businesses because you liked what they were saying, rather than giving a negative example. I think that's a great point and something I will try to do more as well.

                                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                    I do go out of my way to dine in small, family or local owned places, I seldom eat in a chain or fast food. The only Fast food I do enjoy is Sonic, they are just SO nice to you there.

                                                                                    1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                      Thanks. I try not to wear my allegiances on my sleeve. I'm not always successful, tho!

                                                                                    2. re: ricepad

                                                                                      I'm not a cookie monster by a far stretch, nor do I think Girl Scout cookies are all that good.

                                                                                      But since I've learned about their "philosophy" and values, I'll buy them just because. And my man will eat them. Whew.

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                        I bought some this year after the Girl Scouts was attacked by a local crackpot politician. Conversely, I don't buy hot dogs from the boy scouts when they're in front of the home improvement store.

                                                                                        1. re: silvergirl

                                                                                          I believe both organizations are worth supporting.

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            John E.: Girl scouts are inclusive in gender issues, BS are not.

                                                                                          2. re: silvergirl

                                                                                            >I don't buy hot dogs from the boy scouts>

                                                                                            The Boy Scouts sell hot dogs? They're just asking for it.

                                                                                          3. re: linguafood

                                                                                            Why did you put "philosophy" in quotes? I'm fairly ignorant about the subject.

                                                                                        2. The only time ethics dictate my dining preferences is when an establishment is super-overt and public about policies/politics I disagree with.

                                                                                          So...restaurant not using free range chickens...not recycling...using ingredients that suffered a short/long, miserable existence to end up as my food...giving money to democrats/republicans...treating employees poorly...supporting 'free Mumia'...opposing gay marriage...

                                                                                          I don't care. Really couldn't care less. I'll support any of which serves food and beverage I enjoy.

                                                                                          But, when a restaurant shoves the ideology of the owners in my face such that it is impossible to ignore, and I disagree with that ideology, then I will flatly refuse to patronize that establishment again. For example, I went to a diner with some friends a couple weekends ago. The diner had a bunch of pro-Obama stuff all over the walls, and the server was joking about some stupid things a few of the Republican candidates did. So, I shall not return. Not for anything, which is disappointing because the food was really good.

                                                                                          That said, I really don't support restaurants because they have owners that harbor a similar ideology to me. I go for the food, not the politics.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                            This is more in line with how I feel. Yeah, I'd like to say that I research where I eat, and avoid places that have bad practices.... but no. I just go for taste. But if they were shoving their views in my face as in your example, MM, I would not return.

                                                                                          2. Folks, just a request that you try to keep this discussion on track -- debating the actual issues involved is really off-topic for Chowhound. The details of the particular ethical issues isn't really relevant to the topic or to the site.

                                                                                            1. Shark Fin Soup. Anything shark related. Shark Finning is so wrong.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                1. Steve,

                                                                                                  I vote with my AMEX card, so do not support restaurants that support (that I know of) factions, that are not on my personal radar, for "approved causes, people, countries, etc."

                                                                                                  Yes, that means that I do miss some very good restaurants, but then there are many others, just waiting for me.

                                                                                                  That said, hosting an event for someone, who I deem foul, might/might not affect me. Many restaurants will rent out rooms, etc., to people, that they do not directly support. I have dined at many, where there was an event somewhere in the building, for folk, with whom I disagree. That does not reflect on the restaurant, at least not to me. However, there have been instances, where a restauranteur would directly support a person, or cause, that I disagreed with, and I just crossed them off my list. I usually do not indulge the restaurant, or their staff, in discussions on my "causes," or theirs. I really do not wish to share, or hear of what moves them. i care more about their food and service. I am also sure that some of the folk, with whom I disagree, would have a bad meal, if they knew that I was dining, two tables over.

                                                                                                  It is not much different than Hollywood films, where if I disagree with the politics, causes, etc., of the actors, the producer or the director, then I just do not choose to attend a screening, or buy the BD of the film.

                                                                                                  Nah, I try to not expose myself to the details of the lives of the restaurant owners, the chef, or the staff. I just do not want to know that much.

                                                                                                  As for the chicken, I cannot comment that much, but I do seek out "free range" clams, when I can.


                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                    I don't eat at places that I know hire illegal workers. Puerto Ricans and African Americans lose their jobs to "undocumented workers".

                                                                                                    1. re: postemotional1

                                                                                                      do you ask for identification when you dine there? unless you're personally acquainted with staff people there, how would you know this?

                                                                                                      i have worked in restaurants all my life and have worked with some undocumented people. taxes and social security come out of their paychecks too, just like mine. benefits for which they will never be able to file or claim.


                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                        I posted this somewhere else sometime ago, but in my area the owner of a local franchise of a national chain of fast food restaurants got in trouble with his hiring practices. He got in trouble not for hiring illegal aliens but because he preferred to hire them over native born workers. Basically the owner got in trouble for asking prospective employees if they were born in the U.S. and if so he did not hire them. He said he would rather hire a "Mexican-Mexican instead of a Mexican-American because they worked harder".

                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                          and for less pay and have no legal recourse when exploited, abused or fired...

                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                            That did not seem to be the case from the story I read. The owner wanted to retain the workers who were hard workers. I remember there were quotes from some of them about how much they liked working there. This was at keast three years ago however, who knows how much things may have changed.

                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                              I don't know *that* particular owner, but when most talk about how hard the non documented work, it's because they have to, even for $40 per day, as often happens, just to keep the job because if they don't, someone else will. And what were they going to say for attribution in front of the boss?

                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                I know all about what it is you are discussing. It is just that you do not know, and neither do I, the particulars of the place I mentioned. Of course the illegal aliens work hard, the have families to support back in their home countries.

                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                  the restaurant company for whom i now work takes part in the federal e-verify program, so we have no illegals on the payroll, nor working under the table.

                                                                                                                  that being said, in 2.5 years of working there, i have yet to meet a native english speaker applying for a dishwasher or porter position. zero. we are not hiring immigrants out of preference.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                    I believe you. The people the fast food restaurant that I wrote about were accused of not hiring Latinos on St. Paul's eastside that have been there for generations.

                                                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                                                            <<and for less pay and have no legal recourse when exploited, abused or fired...>>

                                                                                                            it should be noted that some "mexican-mexicans" also hold US green cards as does my handyman.
                                                                                                            also, my "guatemalan-guatamalan" housekeeper is a US citizen (i attended her swearing in ceremony).

                                                                                                            because they both do a lot of work for my circle of friends, neither is in much danger of being exploited. if i had to, i'd pay for a lawyer to represent either of them if i got wind of ANY illegal exploitation.)

                                                                                                            my girlfriend who lives about 45 minutes away has her own "mexican-mexican" handyman (with green card) whom she would defend just as vigorously as i would defend my employees.

                                                                                                            not every employer is a douche.
                                                                                                            (that said: i'd never enable a particularly exploitative neighbor to hire either one of "my people").

                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                              Since you quoted a line from a post written by someone other than me, I assume your post was not meant for me.

                                                                                                    2. I stopped going to a local pizza joint that was stiffing all their staff. So did everyone else, and they went out of business.

                                                                                                      Conversely, when the Chapman's ice cream factory burnt down, they kept all their staff at full pay while the new one was built. They're the only ice cream I buy now.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                        Chapmans is a great example of a firm putting employees first. And they make the best lactose free ice cream, IMO.

                                                                                                      2. Wow, Steve, now you have me curious as to which restaurant (I assume it was in th Reno area) and who the world figure was....

                                                                                                        I thought about this a lot, and I can't remember ever specifically boycotting a restaurant because of their ethics or a political position. I'm not at all fond of a certain casino group in Las Vegas that has been running very nasty anti-union ads, but I've been known to eat there occasionally and probably still will...although I'll grumble about it a bit. After all, they have an outpost two blocks from my house and its certainly a convenient place for a late-night snack or to put up guests....

                                                                                                        The question becomes more interesting if the restaurant involved was a place you had the best food in town. At what point do you put aside ethics for the best? Let me answer with an ethical dilemna I faced: there was a certain surgeon that I might refer patients to occasionally. There was no doubt in my mind that he was a good surgeon, actually one of the best. Patients would always be happy with his care, and for good reason. But I also had strong reason to believe that said surgeon was less than ethical in his business dealings. In fact, I am convinced that some of his actions bordered on criminal. I decided that I could not be party even indirectly to his success, so I decided NOT to recommend his services. Fortunately there are other good surgeons in town.

                                                                                                        So I guess my answer is: It depends:-) If there is a line you won't cross, however, stick with it.....

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: janetofreno

                                                                                                          That's the $64 question. When will you cross the line., That Chinese restaurant I referred to had routine food. Nothing to distinguish it from all the other Chinese restaurants in town. So the shrine to Chiang Kai Shek was mildly offensive to me and that was the deciding factor. Bu if the food had been good, I would have eaten there.

                                                                                                        2. Steve - Can I ask a clarifying question? Did the restaurant "allow" the celebration as you said or did the owner of the place atually host it? If you owned a restaurant and got a call that someone wanted to host a private event and agreed to rent out the space, can you be held responsible for what the event was for? I think thats very different than supporting a cause. If you would hold the resto responsible for allowing the event, would you expect a resto to ask for your beliefs on various matters and then decide to not serve you because that might offend other customers? You can't be held to account for your customers views.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                            The restaurant allowed the event to be held there.
                                                                                                            Supposedly it was scheduled in another place and got the boot and he allowed them to have it at his place.
                                                                                                            By the way, I'm not 100 percent certain it happened. I haven't talked to the owner myself. If I could confirm it, I would post more specific details.

                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                Wow. Very impressive. We're here! we want some chicken! get used to it!

                                                                                                              2. Several friends have told me they will no longer be shopping at Wholefoods because of the CEO's statement about Obama's healthcare. I must have missed that news a few months ago.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                  Not just a few months. He's been vocal about it since 2008, if memory serves.

                                                                                                                  I still buy meat there, though little else. I don't think it's unethical for him to have a difference of opinion and philosophy, as compared to racial/gender/orientation and other forms of discrimination.

                                                                                                                  But it does make me less likely to buy more there, and when a company has what I consider highly positive employment policies, I look for reasons to go there more often, instead of limiting my purchases and going elsewhere for the rest.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                    I had no idea about this particular CEO and his political views. Upon further reading, on my part, I noticed several other businesses that I would have assumed, based on their 'hippie' image, would have more liberal minded CEO's.
                                                                                                                    It's just fascinating to me how my friends have decided to give up their once favorite market because of something the CEO said which was neither racist or discriminatory.

                                                                                                                2. Your examples have to do with politics, not ethics. I think it's best if restaurateurs keep their politics separate from their business, but I don't let it bother me if it's unobtrusive.

                                                                                                                  Case in point: My regular coffee shop in my neighborhood has a picture of Che Guevara on the wall. Even though I don't like what it represents, it's no reason not to go there. I like the owner and his shop, and the picture does not interfere with my enjoyment of my morning coffee.

                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                    First and foremost, I agree with your conclusion regarding the shop. Nonetheless, I'm curious. After almost a half century since Guevara's death, what does his image represent? Freedom fighter? Liberator? Argentinian doctor? Anti-Imperialist? Anti-Battista? Castro communist? Anti-American? Martyr? Devil? Occupy Wall Street? etc. I mean, the iconic image associated with Guevara holds a lot of meaning to a lot of different people. Moreover, the historical facts of this life, though incomplete, certainly support a variety of interpretations that might lead folks to respect what he did without the burdens of anachronism.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                      I have no idea what he represents to the owner, who happens to be a Swede, as I have never asked him. It's a curiosity, but not one I'm interested in following up on.

                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                        I just wondered what you think it represents, as you noted that you "don't like" it. At bottom, one man's Washington may have been another's Lenin.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                          I'm not going to get into the politics of it.

                                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                            I'm not trying to cause you trouble, I'm just suggesting that what you think it represents may not be what I think it represents or what the owner thinks it represents. It may merely signify the courage to challenge wrong or the pride of being from humble beginnings. As I said, I laud your decision to ignore your own interpretation of the image and continue to frequent the place. Nonetheless, I submit that certain iconic images have the ability to represent different connotations to different people - in fact, that may be what makes them so widely iconic.

                                                                                                                    2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                      i college, i worked for a restaurant that was owned by a rabid libertarian.
                                                                                                                      at the time i was hired i didn't even know what libertarianism was.
                                                                                                                      the owner treated all of us incredibly well, though.
                                                                                                                      the quality and value he provided to his customers was terrific.
                                                                                                                      he was more than an ethical person.
                                                                                                                      he went over and above for all of his employees, even for those who held the opposite political views.

                                                                                                                      in the end, i decided that if someone was ethical and kind to those around him, and if he didn't force his political views on his employees or his customers, and if he treated everyone fairly, i would be ok with it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                        I readdressed this post, this morning, because of my conversations with friends who're, unbeknownst to me, boycotting WholeFoods.
                                                                                                                        They spent an inordinate amount of time trying to convince me to do the same.
                                                                                                                        Having never been a huge shopper like they are, other than to purchase a few vitamins, etc., I could really care less what the CEO says.
                                                                                                                        Whatever political view a business holds, as long as it's not hurting anyone, then I really don't want anyone trying to tell me to discontinue my relationship with it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                          I would have more of a problem with the friend mentioning to me how I should shop past the first time.

                                                                                                                      2. also,
                                                                                                                        i, unlike most of my local chowhounds, will not willingly eat legally forbidden foods nor patronize places that are associated with serving such foods.

                                                                                                                        when a local sushi bar was busted for serving whale meat, the owners closed down the sushi bar BUT they continued to operate another sushi bar that they owned in the same building. i will never knowingly patronize any establishment with which they are associated.

                                                                                                                        others on my local chowhound board, though, seemed to deify those that would sell whale; they hold a completely contradictory position to mine.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                          That's a good reason to stay away, in my opinion.

                                                                                                                        2. I think there is a difference between ethics and politics.

                                                                                                                          I would be influenced by how business treats its workers. I stopped eating at a local pizza chain based on how it paid it employees. I stopped going to a local business when I learned the owner had been sexually harassing his staff.

                                                                                                                          An owner who votes differently than I do? Not so much. While I lean slightly to the left I wouldn't stop patronizing a place where the owner is a died-in-the-wool conservative.

                                                                                                                          Unfortunately all that said you really don't know the ethical/moral position of many establishments unless they are either very vocal or they get "caught". I am sure there are some really horrific people owning/running places I go to every day.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                            While talking about someone's ethics is often related to their character, it also includes issues of "right and wrong". So personally I think that most of the "political" issues mentioned above do fall into the realm of 'right or wrong'.

                                                                                                                            An owner that votes differently than I do, I'm 99.9% sure I patron countless places where that is the fact. However, it's that tone of "right or wrong" where it becomes an issue for me in the politica/ethical-business mix. So personally, while if I knew an owner voted differently from me it wouldn't bother me - if an owner had posters for a candidate I felt was "wrong" (and the owner clearly felt was right) in the business, I'd avoid it. Perhaps not forever, but when the signs were up it wouldn't feel comfortable.

                                                                                                                            The only vendor of late that I stopped shopping from was when the owner tried to "modesty shame" me for how I was dressing.

                                                                                                                          2. There's a difference between ethical issues and poor service, or an atmosphere that I dislike that's not super clear here.

                                                                                                                            Organic produce, GMO-free, free range...those feed into ethical decisions.

                                                                                                                            Owners making an ass of themselves, offensive decor, poor service by staff...those are all atmosphere and service issues.

                                                                                                                            1. Sometimes, a business might have various political issues. I might heartily agree with some but also heartily disagree with others.

                                                                                                                              Let me play Devil's Advocate: How do you know they completely agree with your political views? Are you going to print out a list of political issues and ask a restaurant owner to fill it out? What if they refuse to do so?

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                                It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry caused Elaine to create a ruckus in a restaurant because of the political views of the restaurant's owner.