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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time Misspent

A travel book I much enjoyed was Europe Through the Back Door by Rick Steves. It became popular enough to spin off a TV series. Rick has a listing of "Bad Towns & Tourist Traps." He prefaces it by saying that he is reluctant to make such a list but feels his readers/travelers likely have too little time, and his list will help avoid time misspent. There is merit to this argument, particularly when a place is prominent and likely to be seen by a visitor in his/her travels.
The same applies to restaurants - there are only so many meals to be had in a day and it is a shame when a visitor spends time and money only to be disappointed and a much better choice could as easily have been made, had he or she only been forewarned. 
Caliente Cab Co., at 61 7th Ave South, was established in 1984 (the company also franchises, so you may come across other locations). At the Yelp site there were 65 customer reviews with too many one-star reviews to dismiss as atypical or the writing of an eccentric. Those that loved the place tended to favor the oversized margaritas and party atmosphere. If you would like more particulars regarding this Greenwich Village Mexican restaurant, read the Yelp reviews here.
Perhaps more interesting than the food or drinks is an incident in 2007 after the Gay Pride Parade when a woman, Khadijah Farmer, was thrown out of a woman's bathroom by an employee bouncer who acted on a complaint that there was a man in the women's bathroom. From the story in the New York Times (see it here):

“He began pounding on the stall door saying someone had complained that there was a man inside the women’s bathroom, that I had to leave the bathroom and the restaurant,” Ms. Farmer said. “Inside the stall door, I could see him. That horrified me, and it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I said to him, ‘I’m a female, and I’m supposed to be in here.’ After I came out of the bathroom stall, I attempted to show him my ID to show him that I was in the right place, and he just refused to look at my identification. His exact words were, ‘Your ID is neither here nor there,’ which means that my ID didn’t matter to him.” ... "She said the bouncer followed her up the stairs and back to the table, asked her party to pay for the appetizers they had already eaten, and then made them leave the restaurant."

According to the article, Farmer experiences being mistaken for a man on a daily basis, but she has never needed to offer identification.
So if your are lured by the large sculpture, colorful graphics, outdoor seating, the mustachioed 1950s Studebaker taxi, loud music with a party atmosphere, sports TV, a happy hour with oversized margaritas and you don't need to eat or use a bathroom, Caliente Cab Co. may be for you :)

Update: In May, 2008, the Khadijah Farmer lawsuit was settled. Farmer was paid $35,000 in damages. $15,000 was also paid to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund which handled the case.

6 comments:

Terry B said...

Although I love the Studebaker cab parked out front, this sounds like the kinds of places that fill what I call tourist ghettos here in Chicago and elsewhere--Rainforest Cafe, Hardrock Cafe, etcetera. All theme parkish and annoying.

HOnestChitChat said...

Disgusting! They should shut that place down for what they did to her!

Lily Hydrangea said...

I always got a bad vibe when walking by this place. I think it may have been the icky goop pouring over the top of the "margarita".

Thomas said...

I've went in this "restaurant" during a trip in new york few years ago: crowded and noisy so I've run out!

annulla said...

I remember when that happened. It was a disgraceful incident and a blot on the city. However, I've always steered clear of the place, as I have no desire to be stuck in a group of loud, rowdy, drunken tourists.


Blather From Brooklyn

George said...

Car is probably a Studebaker Starlight.