Saunders: The next phase in NC dining - no gun, no service

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJune 2, 2014 

With the GOP legislature seemingly declaring war on old people, and because I hope to be old – OK, older – some day, I’ve been looking for business opportunities in the food industry to make my golden years more golden.

That way, even if I don’t sell a biscuit, I can still eat it.

The late George Carlin came up with two ideas I like – a restaurant featuring “all you can eat: to go” and IHOT, the International House of Toast. Both of those ventures seemed perfect, but they had a fatal flaw: Probably not enough advertising.

After my column last week about a Durham barbecue restaurant called The Pit that was robbed because, many people jubilantly surmised, of the owner’s “no guns allowed” policy, I’ve hit upon a can’t-miss idea for a new restaurant.

A market exists

Because of the overwhelming response to that column – hundreds of people vowed they’d never set foot inside The Pit because they never go anywhere their gun isn’t welcome – it’s obvious that there is a market for a restaurant where you have to carry a gun to eat. That’s right, before you strap on the old feedbag, you have to strap up: “No Shoes, No Gun, No Service.”

Some of the rejected names for the trendsetting eatery were “The Shattered Window,” “The Show Yo’ Gun,” specializing in Japanese cuisine, and “The Greasy Knoll” – if you have to ask, don’t ask.

None of those captured the flavor of what we’ll be doing quite like the name we settled upon, though. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, “The Ducking Chef.” If you treated brisket the way he does, you’d duck, too. His cooking isn’t world-class, but it’ll be the world’s first restaurant where you’re encouraged to bring a big appetite and a bigger gun.

Don’t look at me like that, because that scenario is not as absurd as you may think. The legislature has already embarrassed North Carolina by approving bills allowing guns in bars, parks and other unnecessarily militarized sites, so is it really unfathomable that they will eventually pass one requiring guns?

That’ll be fine with many of you. Hundreds of people from whom I heard last week exulted in The Pit’s robbery, saying restaurateur Greg Hatem deserved his misfortune for banning firearms. Those people should frighten us as much as the criminals who stuck up the place. These folks contend the robbers chose the restaurant because they read the sign and realized they’d meet no armed resistance.

Poppycock. Restaurant robbers don’t read. Not all of them can tell time, either.

Lessons from Merle

Ask Merle Haggard. Before he became a country music legend, he was a legendarily bad criminal. He went to jail many times, including for one spectacularly botched restaurant robbery. Two drunk friends and he synchronized their watches and laid in wait to burgle the place. Unfortunately for the dunderheaded desperadoes, it was not, as they thought, 3 a.m. when they crashed through the restaurant ceiling: it was 10 p.m. The joint was still open. And jumping.

They fled, but were arrested and imprisoned.

At The Ducking Chef, we understand that sometimes a man may rush out of the house without his loved one. Or his wife. Ba dum.

In those rare instances, The Ducking Chef will have guest guns available for the insufficiently clad to strap on while they dine. Hey, it works with neckties and sport coats. Our motto will be “The bigger your gun, the quicker your service.”

Hostess: I’m sorry, sir. There’s a 45-minute wait.

Customer: Pulls back coat to reveal a .357 Magnum. Excuse me?

Hostess: Right this way, sir.

Other Customer: Hey, we were here first.

Hostess: Yeah, but his gun’s bigger than yours.

Other customer: That’s outrageous. I demand to see The Ducking Chef.

Hostess: Didn’t you read the sign in the window?

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or

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