Lubbock restaurant defending controversial sign some are calling racist

Lubbock restaurant defending controversial sign some are calling racist
Controversial sign hanging on the wall of Cook's Garage in Lubbock (Source: Cook's Garage Facebook page)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A Lubbock restaurant is defending a controversial sign that some are calling racist.

The neon sign is a caricature of an African-American man, with a porter's cap, with the words Coon Chicken Inn written inside the mouth.

The issue came up after a person attending a company Christmas party on Wednesday night at Cook's Garage noticed the sign hanging on the wall. The person posted the photos on Facebook and got the attention of the owners of Cook's Garage.

Owners of the restaurant responded to the social media complaint about the sign less than 24 hours later, and their response has gone viral.

The post says "We did not put this sign up to be derogatory, racist or to offend anyone. This is part of Americana History...just like everything else hung in our collection and buildings." The post also contains images of the sign, and other signs they have collected, which are all hanging on the walls of the restaurant.

The post goes on to say "Aunt Jemima, mammies, and lots of other black collectibles are highly sought after, as is Americana collectibles with white characters. The Coon Chicken Inn was an actual restaurant started in the 20's. Again, we want to stress we do not intend to offend anyone, and are only preserving a part of history that should remind us all of the senselessness of racial prejudice."

According to the Ferris State University Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia:

The Coon Chicken Inn was a highly successful restaurant chain from the late 1920s through the 1950s. A grinning, grotesque head of a bald Black man with a porter's cap and winking eye formed a restaurant's entryway. The door was through the middle of his mouth. The restaurants sold southern fried Coon Chicken sandwiches, chicken pie, livers -- and hamburgers, seafood, chili, cakes, and assorted sandwiches. When possible, Blacks were used as waiters, waitresses, and cooks.

Cook's Garage has been open since April 2017, according to its website. The restaurant started as a "man cave" with a showroom for collected vehicles. They added signs and buildings on the property to display the signs. They added a kitchen to cook lunch for family and employees, and it eventually turned into a full bar and restaurant.

KCBD.com reached out to Cook's Garage Friday but was unable to contact anyone for comment.

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