Texas Restaurant Owner Defends His 9/11-Themed Bar

Is Bar9Eleven in poor taste or did social media overdo the criticism?

Bar9Eleven, a controversial 9/11-themed bar in Fort Worth, TX
The front of Bar9Eleven, a controversial 9/11-themed bar in Fort Worth, TX.
Jesse Tyler/Twitter

A bar in Texas is under scrutiny for its seemingly very misguided tribute to the events and victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The 9/11-themed bar, Bar9Eleven, is based in Fort Worth, TX. While it’s been open and operating since 2013, a tweet by Jesse Tyler last week stirred up social media.

The bar is attached to a Tex-Mex restaurant that actually opened on Sept. 11, 2001. “I opened my restaurant [Rio Mambo Tex Mex y Mas] on the most tragic day of my life,” Brent Johnson, the 62-year-old owner, told DailyMail.com. “9/11 was just a very tragic day for our country. It was very somber and it’s become a sacred day for all of us.” Johnson also said he named the bar after 9/11 because of a statistic that claimed 80 percent of Americans had not heard of the day.

While a tribute to the people we lost on that terrible day (and yes, as someone who lives in New York and had to experience that day and aftermath in person, I feel I can comment) isn’t a controversial idea, the implementation here is certainly questionable. A commemorative plaque? Sure, although located in a bright, neon-lit restaurant with (hopefully unintentional but ugh) two counters feels wrong.

Texas Monthly has the most nuanced critique, noting that Fort Worth residents had plenty of time to decide if the bar was tasteless (and apparently decided it was fine), the rush of new one-star reviews of the bar on Yelp were somewhat unfair because most of them were from people who hadn’t visited, and this was probably only the third weirdest/worst 9/11 tribute in the state over the past few years — including a mattress store’s “Twin Towers” sale and a cheerleading routine/tribute made worse by one squad member commenting, “Fuck you, I’m going viral.”

As well, while Twitter had a field day with the bar concept, there doesn’t seem to be much in the bar besides the plaque (and the name) that directly ties into that tragic day. Our suggestion? Keep the plaque, change the bar name and reassess that random 80 percent fact, which from our research seems completely made up.


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