Alvarado restaurant owner appeals $5K fine for calling customer gay to state Supreme Court

Frank's Place in Alvarado (via Google Maps)

A restaurant owner in Alvarado questioned the sexual orientation of one of her longtime customers. The customer sued, charging that the restaurant owner’s accusation that he was gay was defamatory and caused mental anguish.

Alvarado is south of Fort Worth along I-35W at U.S. 67 in Johnson County.

Phong Van Meter, the owner of the restaurant Frank’s Place, was fined $5,000 for publicly humiliating a loyal customer and ordered to stop “making or publishing defamatory, libelous and slanderous” comments. The ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals, and Van Meter has now appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, according to Courthouse News.

Bennie Dale Morris, who has eaten at Van Meter’s restaurant for 20 years, “build[s] driveways and spread[s] sand for fixing yards around houses.” He said he had a drop in business as a result of Van Meter’s accusation.

So the lower courts ruled that being called gay is an insult? Or is it only an insult is you’re not gay? And if you are gay, can you sue for someone calling you straight? I hate when that happens.

—  David Taffet

Local briefs • 11.05.10

COH holds vigil for equality

The Cathedral of Hope 20Something Ministries and Peace House Dallas in conjunction with other community activism groups are hosting a candlelight vigil to commemorate and express gratitude to those who struggle for peaceful equality on behalf of LGBTQ people.

They will gather with local community leaders on the grounds of the recently dedicated Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. Speakers will include representatives of Lambda Legal, Cathedral of Hope and Peace House Dallas.

The evening will conclude with a prayer for peace and strength with a progressive lighting of candles as a tribute in honor and memory.

Celebrichefs grill burgers for AIDS

A dozen celebrity chefs joined Chef John Tesar, culinary director of DRG Concepts, on the fifth floor pool deck at The House in Victory Park, for the second annual Burgers & Burgundy event benefiting Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. The chefs crafted a variety of burgers from BBQ spiced beef with smoked sausage to grilled garlic lamb sliders to raise funds for DIFFA.

This year’s event raised more than $25,000 while guests sipped burgundy wines and with  downtown Dallas serving as a backdrop.

Chefs who participated in addition to Tesar included Cooking With Friends host Nick Stellino, James Beard award winner R.J. Cooper, Stephan Pyles, Kent Rathbun, Tim Byres, Scott Romano, Dan Landsberg, Samir Dhurandhar, Sharon Van Meter, Kevin Williamson, and Brian Luscher. They represented restaurants as diverse as Samar, Nick and Sam’s, Smoke, Tillman’s Road House and The Grape.

Silent auction packages included four Kenmore grills paired with a celebrity chef visit or a party with Michael Martensen.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens