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Well, “Cheers” was taken.
Bar 9Eleven, a bar in Texas named after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, has shocked and outraged Twitter after a traveler snapped a photo of the Forth Worth pub’s exterior featuring cheery bubble letters.
“Drove by this bar and thought ‘Huh I wonder what that’s about’. Turns out it’s about exactly what you think,” Missouri resident Jesse Tyler wrote on Twitter alongside images taken at the bar named after one of the most galvanizing tragedies in American history.
“I get it, it’s a sensitive subject,” Bar 9Eleven owner Brent Thompson told The Post, insisting the name — yes, after that 9/11 — was never intended to offend.
“If you don’t have all the facts, you probably going to have a negative reaction.”
Bar 9Eleven, he explained, actually serves as the “lounge” area of Tex-Mex restaurant Rio Mambo in the City View area of Fort Worth and got its name nearly 15 years after the tragedy. The establishment’s relatively understated interior features a gallery-like wall with four picture boards, featuring images taken in the aftermath of the attack.
Thompson said the story behind the bar’s name is not a ploy for publicity. He told The Post he had been preparing for the soft opening of his first restaurant on that tragic day in 2001, which took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people.
“At the time we opened, 9/11 was just another day of the week,” Thompson said. “But that morning is when my wife called me at the restaurant and told me a plane hit the towers.”
Undeterred, the 62-year-old restaurateur told his wife, “Sweetheart, we’re opening in two and a half hours,” he said. “I didn’t know what it was.”
Thompson soon found out and his opening day jitters soon gave way to fear as he waited to hear from his daughter, who had been on a flight headed toward San Antonio that morning, and his brother-in-law, a pilot for American Airlines.
But it wasn’t until the bar’s 13th anniversary in 2014 that Thompson felt compelled to pay special tribute to their somber opening day, after he heard a sobering statistic on the news that a “high percentage” of Americans would wake up 15 years to the day of the attacks and not remember the tragedy.
“We don’t celebrate 9/11 that way, but when I heard those figures, I just thought you know, that’s kind of a tragedy,” he said. That’s when he decided to rename the lounge area, previously dubbed “Charlie Bar” after a former employee, after that fateful day. Bar 9Eleven also includes decor with a narrative timeline of Sept. 11 that compares Rio Mambo’s opening morning with the events in New York, Pennsylvania and in DC.
While Thompson said his establishment does not make merry of a national tragedy, he hopes the name serves to provide observance of that day.
“I may lose a few customers on this,” Thompson said of the decision to rename the bar area 9Eleven. “But what will not happen to people who come in my restaurant — this restaurant that opened that day — what will not happen is they won’t forget.”
Despite his explanation, it’s no surprise those outside of the Fort Worth, Texas area are scandalized by the name.
“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,” Tyler, who posted the original tweet Monday, later mocked. The thread which ensued included countless cracks and other derisive comments on the gastropub.
On Google, there’s a slew of one-star reviews, though its Yelp page seems to have mediocre three-star reviews — for now.
While the moniker seems to draw criticism from out-of-towners, Thompson said it has a loyal fanbase of locals.
“80% of our business comes from 20% of our customers,” Thompson said of Rio Mambo’s following, which boasts three locations in the Fort Worth metro area.
But for those who have heard his story, and still find the name “distasteful,” he said, “I respect that.”
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