Burned by the success of the Memories Pizza fundraising campaign, a suburban Chicago sausage stand has launched its own online push to raise money and to make a point about bigotry in the wake of Indiana's Religious Freedom Act. Big Guys Sausage Stand owner Brendan O'Connor says he doesn't want people think he's exploiting the situation just to raise money for his business. He pledges to donate any money received to charity, while hoping to attract business including the chance to cater gay weddings.
"We just don't think like that, we just don't agree with discrimination," O'Connor said. "It doesn't seem like it's an acceptable way to live."
Incidentally, Memories Pizza is owned by Indiana's own O'Connor clan, but Big Guys' has no relation with them. The Trib first reported the campaign, which is titled "Non Bigoted Restaurant Wants Cash." Big Guys, a tiny stand that seats eight, has been around for three years in suburban Berwyn. This is O'Connor's first foray into crowdfunding, as he posted the poll on a whim on Friday. A journalism grad from Columbia College in Chicago, the Oak Park native made sure the page's description was full of humor, taking shots at Indiana:
At Big Guys Sausage Stand we use a lot of ingredients to make great homemade sandwiches, but one ingredient we never use is hate. You might get served by a Haitian, or Mexican or even a Rastafarian guy, but no matter who serves you they will do so without condemnation or scorn.
As of Monday afternoon, the page has raised a tick more than $1,800. The reaction's been mostly positive, though O'Connor did note one weak-sauce Facebook commenter attempting to disparage the pro-gay business by calling Big Guys a bunch of "sausage smokers." O'Connor wasn't fazed, as Big Guys does, in fact, smoke a hot link in house.
"We thanked him for noticing," O'Connor said.
There wasn't anyone in particular who motivated O'Connor to start this campaign, who called the Indiana law "absurd." He hasn't picked a charity yet to donate the money, but it may be one that's anti-bullying. They may even cater a party near the restaurant to raise more money for the cause. Check out the Facebook page for updates.