“Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) denounced protesters seen clashing with police outside the Capitol as droves of pro-Trump demonstrators descended on Washington to challenge the presidential election results… ‘This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today,’ she said.” — The Hill, 1/6/21

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A few days ago, I was shocked to find out that the Fuddruckers I manage was about to be shut down by the health department. It comes as a surprise, because despite countless health code violations over the years, this just isn’t who we are as a restaurant.

Am I aware of the thousands of one-star Yelp reviews? Of course I am, along with the thousands of negative-star reviews, which shouldn’t even be possible under the current rating system. But one only needs to come into our restaurant and see for themselves that this is not who we are. Once our hostess greets you with a gruff “fuck off, dickhead,” walks you to one of our booths covered in half-rendered animal fat, and hands you a wet menu, I’m confident you’ll be able to ignore all the physical evidence that this is who we are to see the beautiful five-star gourmet restaurant we actually are.

Sure, when you order a hamburger, it comes out completely uncooked and smelling vaguely like motor oil. I’m also aware that if you send your burger back, you’ll receive it forty minutes later in the same state, but with a phlegmy lob of spit on it. That’s simply devastating to me, because as I’m sure you’re aware, serving greasy, raw meat covered in spit is just not who we are. It’s definitely not who Kevin, our surly line cook who works on his Vespa during his shift and loves to spit in people’s food, is. When I asked Kevin if this was who he was, he said no, and then spit in my face. It was revolting, but I have no choice but to trust that his actions don’t reflect what’s in his heart.

I’m not naïve. I know this Fuddruckers is not without its faults. When we were caught using human breast milk in our milkshakes, I was ashamed. We’re just not the kind of place that does that, despite having made it our location’s official policy in 2011. When we were caught passing off bits of urinal cakes as after dinner mints, I just couldn’t believe it, even though I encouraged our staff to do so. That’s not representative of our values, even though we continue to hand out urinal cake mints to this very day. When we found a nest of rats in the salad bar, I was mortified. That’s the kind of thing that happens at some faraway restaurant like Chili’s whenever I send some of our servers over there with a cage full of our excess rats. Our Fuddruckers may have violated the Geneva Conventions a half-dozen times, but we’re simply not the kind of restaurant that has a rat nest in our salad bar.

So please, health inspectors, I ask you not to judge us by our actions (which are deplorable), but by our intentions (which I assure you are saintly). Let’s move forward together, and let me continue to serve our limp, slimy mozzarella sticks, dusty sweet potato fries, and our pasta cooked in the women’s toilets without consequence. Let’s not sink to petty partisan politics and ask me to do something divisive like change my ways or pay for anyone’s medical bills. I’m reminded of a quote from the original manager of this Fuddruckers (me): “This is, and will always be, the best Fuddruckers of all time.” Those words ring just as true today as they did when I said them all those years ago, as I was bulldozing the Applebees that existed here first.