We get a lot of reviews on a lot of different platforms -- Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Google, and of course, Yelp. A lot of these reviews say positive things, and we are always grateful to the folks who hit us with kudos.
Of course, it’s only natural that some of these reviews run on the opposite side of the continuum.
Some folks get mad that we don’t offer the entirety of our services free of charge. We’ve taken some heat for enforcing a 21 & up policy in our bar area after 9 p.m. We’ve had people slam us because some of our team members have facial piercings and tattoos. We even had one person complain that our team didn’t have enough facial piercings and tattoos.
And while it might seem strange to say this, we are grateful for all of these negative reviews. Even the ones that were clearly written by trolls. These less than positive notices often contain valuable feedback.
Sure, there are times when our policies are immovable for a variety of reasons.
But there are many times when feedback makes us aware of a problem or issue that we were not aware of beforehand.
Take this review from “Ashley H.” that we saw on Yelp:
“I was greatly disappointed to see that the place that before claimed equality and said they'd never yield to the HB2 bathroom law by having gender neutral bathrooms now has specific gender-binary bathrooms; giving in to inequality towards the LGBT community. I definitely will not go there again, as many other places have non-gender bathrooms and support our community. I hope others support LGBT and non-binary facilities.”
As a straight, white, cis male, it’s easy to be blinded to the emotional, personal, and legal challenges that my LGBTQ friends and neighbors must navigate by the simple virtue of being alive in the American south, circa 2018.
And here’s the truth of it, while our last location had many issues -- zero parkability, a leaky roof, sagging floors, and a half-dead air conditioning system to name a few -- one of the few positives it presented for us was its four gender neutral single use bathrooms. When our state was upturned by the hateful, wholly disingenuous HB2 ‘Bathroom Bill supported by NC Senators and Representatives and at least one Greensboro business developer, those single use bathrooms were a physical, clear cut way for our business to state that we stand with our LGBTQ North Carolinians.
When we moved into this new building we now occupy, there were many repairs, changes, and upfits that we had to navigate. And converting the pre-existing shared use bathrooms that were in our building proved to be too expensive for our meager budget.
By default, I think a lot of people automatically consider all businesses as large budgeted organizations with the funds needed to instantaneously execute the full extent of their owners’ dreams. I certainly believe that our robust marketing definitely propagates this idea at times. However, the reality is that Geeksboro Battle Pub is very much a small company. We scrape hard to survive. We are really only able to accomplish a lot of the seemingly fantastic things we do by working pretty much non-stop months before we opened our doors.
But no matter how hard I work, I could not personally build or install a single use bathroom in our building if I tried. Alas, I’m an English major who dabbled in carpentry during the summer jobs I had as a teen.
As a result, the single-use bathrooms of our dreams are currently on our ‘to build’ agenda -- something I will pay to install as soon as we are in a position where we can afford them. It’s not ideal. I can make no promises or projections at this point as to when that will happen. What I can say is that it is a priority. I say this in large part because the feeling of comfort and safety of my LGBTQ friends and neighbors is important to me.
So with that at the front of my heart and mind on the eve of our city’s newly rescheduled Greensboro Pride weekend, I want to make it clear that Geeksboro Battle Pub is a safe space for all people. In that spirit, I want all of our trans and gender non-binary customers to know they are supported and free to use the bathroom they feel would be most comfortable to them.
From one location to the next, there have been and will continue to be a lot of changes as Battle Pub grows into our evolving idea of what it should be. In the meantime, one thing that will never change is our fundamental, inclusive belief that everyone is welcome so long as they are respectful and do not make others feel unwelcome.
In other words, ‘Y’ALL will ALWAYS mean ALL, folks.’ There’s not a better, more North Carolinian way to say it than that.