‘My goal is very simple. Don’t forget. No more, no less,’ owner of ‘bar9eleven’ says
A bar owner has defended his 9/11-themed establishment after a Twitter post about “bar9eleven” went viral last week.
It wasn’t until 2013 that Mr Johnson decided to remodel the bar attached to his restaurant and name it after the tragedy. Mr Johnson said at the time that he was undertaking the project to make sure patrons “won’t forget”.
The bar, which is attached to Mr Johnson’s restaurant Rio Mambo Tex Mex y Mas, received attention last week as a tweet from passerby Jesse Tyler went viral.
“Drove by this bar and though ‘huh I wonder what that’s about’. Turns out it’s about exactly what you think,” he wrote.
Mr Tyler posted an image of a memorial plaque on the wall, describing 11 September 2001 from the point of view of Mr Johnson, who was poised to open Rio Mambo Tex Mex y Mas on that very day.
“The phone at Rio Mambo Tex Mex y Mas rings for the first day of operations,” the sign reads and indicates that this took place at “8:49am”.
“Enthusiastically I answer the phone with pride and anticipation. Rosanne (my wife) informs me that reports out of New York indicate some type of aircraft has collided with the World Trade Center but details were ‘sketchy’.”
“Having hosted over 400 people the previous night to ‘christen the ship’ and at the end of a long, hands on, construction journey that began with John Paul (my son) and I ripping out pink carpet on July 2nd, my response was predictably short,” the sign adds.
“Honey, our restaurant will open in less than two and a half hours. I cannot talk on the phone,” Mr Johnson is quoted as saying on the plaque.
“After 71 straight days of physical labor, interviewing, hiring, training, and negotiating with the immense sacrifice of my family…we were poised to introduce Rio Mambo to Fort Worth.”
“I hurried back to moving equipment and preparing for what I anticipated to be one of the greater memories of my life. I was wrong…”
Mr Tyler tweeted that he was “blown away by this work of creative nonfiction depicting the owner of a Tex Mex restaurant in north Texas as the main character of our nation’s darkest day”.
Mr Johnson, 62, told DailyMail.com that he doesn’t care about the criticism his bar has received for its theme.
“The only people who say that are people who don’t know me and are not from Fort Worth,” he said on Sunday.
He added that the bar received attention from the media after it was remodelled in 2013, but “Twitter wasn’t as strong back then”.
He said locals “know me and understand what purpose was behind it”.
“It’s really, really simple,” he said and added: “I opened my restaurant on the most tragic day of my life. 9/11 was just a very tragic day for our country.
“It was very sombre and it’s become a sacred day for all of us.”
Mr Johnson added that he decided to name the bar after the tragedy after he read a statistic that 80 per cent of Americans had never heard of 9/11. The source of the statistic referenced by Mr Johnson is unclear.
“We were remodelling the bar so I said ‘We’re not going to forget. And people who come into this restaurant aren’t going to forget’,” he said.
Mr Johnson said that Twitter users mocking and criticising his bar were proving him right because “they thought of 9/11”.
“Mission accomplished,” he said. “My goal is very simple. Don’t forget. No more, no less.”