The below is an open letter I sent to Sgt. Pepper’s Grille & Bar, a restaurant located in Oakdale, Minnesota. Their menu was sent to me by a friend, who probably knew I’d take some kind of pleasure out of this, because he knows me pretty well.
Dear Rob, Julie and Dean,
I’m going to be patient with the forthcoming message, because the optimist in me assumes that you’re not racist, just stupid.
The term “dago” is an ethnic slur. Here’s a quick Wikipedia rundown, which is easily accessible to anybody, at all, in the world: “Dago is an ethnic slur for people of Italian descent in the US and Australia, but elsewhere it also refers to people of Hispanic and Portuguese descent.”
I recently caught a whiff of your online menu, which features an item called the “Hot Dago.” The menu describes it thus: “A fresh Italian sausage patty smothered with marinara, Mozzarella, grilled onions and peppers served open faced. 8.95” Now, I take no issue with the ingredients. As a dago, I am genetically predisposed to going fucking bananas over this type of combination.
My issue is with the name. The “Hot” prefix somehow makes it worse, and, aside from the vaguely offensive “Paco’s Taco” item, it’s pretty much the only racially charged item on the menu. It is with much respect that I suggest you either change the name of the item, or include some other such items on the menu. For the sake of workshopping: “On-Their-Own-Time Fried Chicken Sampler,” “Ethnic Slur-pee,” “Home Depot Parking Lot Fajita,” “Bacon-backed, Lily White Pizza by the Slice,” “Irish Whiskey-Battered Wife Bangers (with Egg Beaters),” and, of course, “Neapolitan Rainbow Fag Ice Cream.”
My personal recommendation would be to just change the “Hot Dago” to something else, as it would save on the extra copywriting and design fees that would come with updating multiple items. Either way, I suggest you make some sort of adjustment. After all, one man’s online comment gag is another, more sensitive man’s tort claim.
A Hot Dago
P.S. – $8.95 is fucking expensive.