A Dallas restaurant that made international news after a run-in with the NRA is putting its money where its mouth is, by making a sizable donation to an organization dedicated to reducing gun violence.
Ellen's, the popular Southern restaurant in Dallas' West End, put a message on the bottom of its checks calling for "reasonable and effective gun regulations" to mark the arrival of the National Rifle Association convention, which was in Dallas May 4-6.
In response, the NRA posted a tweet urging its followers to "steer clear of Ellen's in downtown Dallas!" with a photo of the receipt.
The restaurant and its owner Joe Groves were besieged by a campaign that included hundreds of bad reviews on Yelp (maybe not such a problem) and more alarmingly, threats of physical violence.
Groves clarified his support for the Constitution, including the 2nd Amendment. "We believe our position is anything but controversial," he said. "And like the NRA, we also support finding solutions to the senseless killings that happen much too frequently. We believe those two things are completely compatible."
Part of Groves' original intent was always to raise funds for an organization that advocated for gun reform, and he settled on Moms Demand Action, the group founded by stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts in 2012, in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
He'll present the group with a check for $15,000.
"We'll present it during a special celebration at the restaurant on Mother's Day at 3 pm," Groves says. "I put a significant amount of personal money into it, but the rest came from patrons of the restaurant as well as people calling us from South America, Asia, from countries all around the world."
Donna Schmidt, from the Dallas chapter of Moms Demand Action, says, "The vast majority of Americans, including the vast majority of NRA members, support responsible gun laws. We're grateful to Ellen's for standing up for common sense and are grateful for their donation."
Groves anticipated that he might see some blowback — but not to the degree he experienced.
"As a prankster myself, I find some of what they've done to be hilarious," he says. "They went on our website and filled up the on-line reservations so the restaurant appeared to be full. They're making reservations like 'Donald Trump, table for 4, near a window.' Or under names like 'Richard Glock.' And they posted a Craigslist ad saying that Ellen's is liquidating its kitchen, and the equipment is for sale. That is a very funny joke."
"I expected some backlash but I did not expect to become a pariah personally or to be interviewed by the BBC," he says. "But in the end, I think the NRA helped us, not only in allowing us to make this generous contribution, but ultimately to create the conversation we need to have."