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Courtesy Facebook

Shortly before noon today, Elsa Ruggiero, the owner of Splash of Red Hair Studio near the West 7th corridor, wrote a long, sincere, direct, and what appears to be a private message to the owners of Hot Box Biscuit Club. Ruggiero said she had noticed that the Near Southside restaurant had not issued any sort of statement on the killing of George Floyd or the associated protests that have spread across the globe but uses African-American cultural references among others as part of its menus. Anyone hungry for “Pimpento” cheese and “Notorious P.I.G.” and wanting to chase it down with “Ice T” knows where to go now.

Ruggiero wanted to know why Hot Box remained “completely silent on the topic of racial injustice.”

It is disturbing, she said, “that Hot Box can benefit so much from black culture and be silent on black issues.”

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She requested a statement from the restaurant owners.

The owners only said, “Thanks.”

Ruggiero responded, “So what’s your plan moving forward?”

“None of your concern,” Hot Box replied.

“It is absolutely my concern,” Ruggiero said. “Do better.”

“It actually is not your concern,” Hot Box said. “But thanks.”

Rather than say, “You’re welcome,” Ruggiero posted a note on her own Facebook page that included a screenshot of her exchange with Hot Box.

“My community is my concern,” she wrote. “My community was my concern before I was a stylist, and now they’re the only reason I have a business to be proud of. The black community being murdered is my concern. It’s your concern, too. It should be Hot Box’s concern, but they’re really just so focused on figuring out which rapper’s face would look trendy on their menu next. You understand. I don’t appreciate being brushed off. I don’t appreciate not being met with the same open mind and compassion that I offer to others. I don’t appreciate black lives being less important than fried chicken drowned in gravy. I ask that you be intentional about the businesses you support — don’t shop where you aren’t a concern. Hot Box Biscuit Club, is it my concern yet?”

After a few hours, her post had been shared more than 100 times and received more than 150 comments from others. People began leaving bad reviews for Hot Box on various online platforms.

Hot Box issued a quick and conciliatory response on its page: “We realize that our response to Elsa Ruggiero message was careless and lacked sensitivity. We are very sorry for that and want everyone reading this to know that we support you. We back our black community and black businesses. It is valuable for our fellow community members to reach out and provide us with feedback to help us do better. We acknowledge that Elsa Ruggeiro [sic] gave us the opportunity to be better and we responded with haste. Thank you for giving us suggestions and providing us the opportunity to improve ourselves and our community. We look forward to showing you that we can and will do better.”

After three hours, Hot Box’s statement had received almost 1,000 comments. Most were not supportive. Example: “Could have been such an opportunity for you, but y’all let your entitled privileged attitude bring you down.”

Ruggiero left her own comment on the Hot Box page: “Had it not been for every single one of you who wrote a review, messaged them, shared my post — we would have no apology. So thank you for the back up.”

I reached out to the Hot Box owners and asked them to call me. I received a response that said they would but needed more time.

11 COMMENTS

  1. What is wrong with “pimpmento”? Is Fort Worth Weekly so racist that they only feel that black people are pimps? I mean seriously, way to stereotype and generalize!!! Very gross! Also, you use someone’s words or opinion like it’s fact by quoting when she said, “ but they’re really just so focused on figuring out which rapper’s face would look trendy on their menu next. ”. Does this person personally know the owners to be able to say that? While FW Weekly jumped on this piece, I’m wondering if FW Weekly performed any due diligence to find out who the owners hang around and who their friends are because you might be surprised. Nah, you didn’t because that would require journalism and facts. If I were the owners, I would sue the hell out of you and Elsa for defamation of character. What proof do you have the owner is racist? I mean you are a newspaper, put your money where your mouth is and provide the proof that the owner is racist! Publish an article with your facts! Otherwise, anyone can go around saying anything and it’s proof. What a trash publication. And also there are thousands upon thousands of people, blacks in the black community that do not believe in nor support BLM, which I guess Black LiveS Matter only when those black lives feel like this lady, which again is racist. If it mattered so much to Elsa and to FW Weekly, I urge her and you, since you feel so strongly about BLM, turn your privilege over and give half your money to a black person, half your belongings-lose your privilege to a black person that has less than you. Since Elsa said it was important to her before she went into business, how much of her company’s profit does she donate from here on out to Black Lives Matter. I’d really like to know what her history is. It’s crap like this that will actually turn people away from the change that these people want. I mean you know now the owners lives’ have been threatened, saying they have their personal addresses. I believe one of the owners is a woman. If I were Hot Box, I would start a GoFundMe and go after you all. I have heard legal action has been started.

    • Symone,

      I’m sure the GoFundMe is coming. That’s the answer to every a-hole. Ask whole bunch of fellow a-holes to send them money so they can pay for PTSD treatment stemming from all those meddling kids holding up a mirror to the said a-hole.

      Hey let me jump in front of Elsa for that lawsuit. Because it has as much chance of being filed against frosty the snow man as it does her or me. Defamation of character? Bless your heart. That’s really funny. I mean, I wouldn’t open with it. But it is funny.

      She asked them some questions. They had every right to answer her nicely or dismissively. And she had every right to express her opinion on those answers and print their words. You do understand that don’t you? I bet you do.

      That said. I, Perry Justin from Fort Worth TX agree with Elsa whole heartedly. Her opinion and her choosing to expose their response.

      Sue me!
      Sue me!

      Uh, I’m just gonna go find a cash machine.

      ~Perry

  2. A paragraph about a social media post from an angry salon owner trying to corner and coerce another business to agree with them from the comfort of their own couch? Let’s support our businesses, and be less divisive. With all the 1 star Yelp reviews she drove to this business, I would guess couch activists will get to work on Splash of Red Hair Studio as well.

  3. YES: It’s crap like this that will actually turn people away from the change that these people want. I mean you know now the owners lives’ have been threatened, saying they have their personal addresses. I believe one of the owners is a woman. If I were Hot Box, I would start a GoFundMe and go after you all. I have heard legal action has been started.

  4. People like Elsa are the Karen’s of society. She sucks. She wants to virtue signal so bad that she wants to ruin lives.

  5. Elsa needs to butt out of people’s business. Not EVERYONE has to comment on BLM. Not EVERYONE has to be on social media putting their every thought online. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to!! You have no idea what the owners are supporting in their personal lives and it’s no ones business either. Being a bitch bully is the wrong way to get people on your side. If I was them, I would totally sue Elsa. Defamation is a big deal and uncalled for when a company has done nothing to you personally. This cancel culture is getting out of hand and people who incite this need to face some consequences. Elsa, I hope you face some backlash too for being all up in places you have no right to be up in. Get a life.

  6. What a complete farce. This woman accentuates the obvious, namely, Hot Box’s menu has overt references to black culture. Never mind the other pop culture references from George Strait to Paris Hilton; seems like an inclusive atmosphere to me. But then her criticism isn’t that Hot Box is discriminatory, only that Hot Box owners made money off black culture without the requisite pandering to BLM. I would argue that Hot Box has made money off some damn fine food that could have been named anything just shy of ‘chicken sh*t sandwich and hush Elsa puppies’ (you’re welcome Hot Box). In fact, I see a clear distinction between a culturally inclusive menu such as in this case and say, a white boy out there making millions appropriating black culture parading around as a hip hop artist. Then FW Weekly breathlessly reports a mix of play-by-play cat fight revue and opportunistic virtue signaling without doing due diligence and asking why Elsa has failed to present on her own webpage the same declaration of fealty to the mob as she expects of Hot Box. What a farce!

  7. Thank you for spotlighting their bigotry and culture appropriation! It’s gone on far too long and it needed to be addressed! All the people upset shares similar small mindsets so I expect those ignorant responses. It’s quite comical and the decrease in sales will continue. “Don’t believe me just watch.”

  8. Seems like Elsa’s business is maybe not doing so hot so she feels the need to be a busy body a stir some sh*t. Settle down Karen, pop another xany, and find something else to rant over. This was a stretch and really showed your cray cray side.

  9. Now (a bunch of white)people are leaving fake reviews on Elsa’s salon page as backlash for speaking up for POC. Facebook and yelp aren’t removing them. They’re attacking her and anyone who is asking them to remove their fake reviews. There’s a Facebook group dedicated to taking her business down. It’s disgusting. If you don’t like her, feel free to post on your Facebook page and tag her business but the truth is posting libel isn’t the answer to your dissatisfaction with her posting about something she believes in and something she believes to be wrong. You may not agree and think she is “Karen”ing, but the truth is Hot Box Biscuit Club needs to do better. So do the people trying to attack Elsa’s small business. She’s talking the talk and walking the walk. She supports POC-owned small businesses and is actually hosting a fundraiser and donating the proceeds to Black Lives Matter. I think that’s a much better step than posting a fake review of Splash of Red any day.

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