People often assume that they can say whatever they want online with no real repercussions, but a recent incident proved that isn't the case. Earlier this week, a Houston woman was asked to leave a restaurant after calling the bartender a "twerp" on Twitter.
Allison Matsu went to the Down House on Sunday to have a drink with a friend. According to what she told the Houston Press, when they got there several employees were talking behind the bar and she heard one say something derogatory about Bobby Heugel, a prominent local bartender. Matsu says, "He looked like he was about 16, so I called him a twerp [on Twitter]." (She also tagged the now-deleted Tweet #jackoff.)
Matsu says she and her friends started chatting with the employees, and they were all having a good time when they got a call from general manager Forrest DeSpain, who was at home and saw her Tweet. She says:
As soon as [Forrest DeSpain] got on the phone, he started yelling. He paints a different story — that he was stern but politely asked me to apologize or leave the establishment — but he was extremely angry from the get-go, saying that I was eavesdropping on a conversation between employees. When someone starts yelling at me, I shut down. Most of it's a blank after that. I was just thinking, "What the hell is going on? What just happened?" [DeSpain] is yelling at me and telling me I need to leave. I don't even know how long the conversation lasted. I didn't get a word in edgewise. He yelled, "You don't interrupt me."
Matsu left, but continued talking about the incident on Twitter, writing:
"Left @DownHouseHTX in tears after GM called up & asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse a me & ask me to leave. Wow."
The next day, owner Chris Cusack told KPRC Houston that DeSpain had every right to kick her out. "Any business is allowed to set the tone of their establishment," Cusack said. "If you go to someone's house and start calling them names, I wouldn't really expect to stay too much longer after that."
Like many restaurants, the Down House has a Twitter account and it's common for diners to Tweet reviews, both positive and negative. While people are kicked out of restaurants and bars all the time for being disruptive or rude to the staff, Matsu says her comment was different because it was made online (not to mention that the insult was fairly benign):
"If you're in earshot of customers, you probably shouldn't be talking poorly about another bar. He was just being arrogant. It would be one thing if I called him a jerk or a twerp to his face and was then asked to leave the establishment."
Matsu seems to suggest that her comment was more like a quip to a friend, but since she's friends with the owner on Twitter, she had to know that people who work at the Down House would be able to see the remark. It's more like announcing to the room "that guy's a twerp" when the bartender walks back to the stockroom. Calling Matsu and screaming at her definitely wasn't the best way to handle the situation, but she can't claim that her words don't count because she typed them instead of saying them out loud.
Restaurant Ejects Diner for Tweeting While Eating - UPDATED [Houston Press]
Tweet Gets Restaurant Customer Kicked Out [KPRC Houston]