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Protest against Fred’s Breakfast Club in New Hope planned for Saturday

A local anti-racism group on Saturday morning will demonstrate at Fred’s Breakfast Club in New Hope to protest the restaurant’s response to customer complaints about an offensive sign displayed there.

A photo of the sign, which tells a joke about a dog owner applying for welfare on behalf of his pets, was first posted Tuesday on Facebook by a member of the New Hope & Lambertville Community group.

The sign at Fred’s. A photo of several dogs appeared directly above the text.

“This morning I went to sign my dogs up for welfare,” reads the sign. “At first the lady said the dogs are not eligible to draw welfare. Then I explained to her my dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, can’t speak English and have no idea who their daddies are…my dogs get their first check Friday.”

Reaction to the sign on Facebook was fast and furious, with hundreds of responses decrying the racist stereotypes underlying the attempt at humor, and a sizable number railing against what they perceived as the oversensitivity of those complaining.

“I have a great idea. Maybe Fred’s can setup a crying room for all the offended flakos,” read one post. “If your [sic] offended, do the rest of us a favor and stay away.”

“You are welcome to take a tour of our business and see if you can find anything else that offends you or you can get over it and have some pancakes,” Fred’s Breakfast Club posted in response to a customer complaint on its Facebook page.

The initial response by Fred’s on Facebook

Not surprisingly, the backlash against Fred’s only increased, with more and more Facebook posters calling for a boycott of the restaurant, and ownership appearing to dig in their heels and make light of the growing furor.

“Now that we seem to have everyone’s attention, we will be extending our season on the patio with fire pits, we are adding a market to Fred’s for those who would like to purchase pre prepared breakfast lunch and dinners as well as to go,” Fred’s posted in response to a reader asking about the controversial sign.

A subsequent post that appeared to be authored by Fred’s owner Chris Bollenbacher announced that the offensive sign had been removed, but stopped short of an apology.

“It will make you all happy to know that a person near and dear to my heart, a Fred’s member has come and removed the sign,” read the post on the Fred’s Breakfast Club Facebook page. “For those of you who don’t know me and my 45 years of service to the community, volunteerism, contributions, and employment of literally thousands, who think my desire to not censor a members contribution to our walls makes me a bad person then I support your right to vote with your feet.”

Bollenbacher was not immediately available for comment.

“They had a so-called member take down the sign,” commented one Facebook reader responding to a copy of Fred’s announcement posted on the Bucks County NAACP page. “They couldn’t even take it down themselves.”

Management at Fred’s finally relented and posted an apology on Thursday.

“To every person of any color, gender, orientation, and those affected by hate who feel demeaned or unwelcome by the content of the application, we are deeply sorry,” read the message on Fred’s Facebook site, where posts had swelled to over 800 by Friday morning, when the page appeared to be disabled. “It was never our intention. Please accept our sincerest apology.”

“No need to apologize,” wrote one of the many Facebook posters who saw nothing wrong with Fred’s sign. “Really wish you hadn’t caved in. You whack jobs that don’t like it stay TF away.”

Many saw the reaction to Fred’s apology by the restaurant’s supporters as more disturbing than the sign in question.

“At this point it’s more about the public’s response to the reluctant and self-serving apology than the hesitation for it, or even the sign that spawned the need for it,” said Kevin E. Leven, a leader of Bucks County Anti-Racism Coalition and organizer of Saturday’s protest.

The demonstration will begin at 10 a.m., according to Leven, and participants should meet at east Randolph and North Main streets, wear a mask, and follow social distancing guidelines.

Organizers stressed that their goal is creating a dialogue, not confrontation.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • Norman…why is everything you don’t like Trump’s fault? This letter has been hanging inside of this restaurant before he even thought to run for President. The man has stated publicly numerous times his denouncing of racism and white supremacy groups. Find me a factual statement of the opposite, I would love to see it! This President has been attacked since before he even took office by the powers to be, is that right? It was proven publicly the Russia collusion was a hoax and manufactured by Hillary and company as stated by EVIDENCE not rumors. I get Trump is a tough pill to swallow if you are on the other side of the aisle with his bombastic, band aid ripping style of speaking and not concerned if he hurts your feelings. He is true to the person you saw on tv and read about in magazines and newspapers. Many times I cringed because he states things that are not publicly smart in my opinion and can hurt his message to those left of him but they are the naked truth.

    Remember Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you will be judged”!

    Back to the issue at hand. The letter looks like it was made as a joke but in very poor taste and probably by someone with borderline racist’s biases but it is not the President’s doing. You want him gone even though he wants to help Americans from the Washington deep state which is taking more of our freedoms and monies from us to build a society, that WE will eventually be totally dependent on them for survival and to reap the power of true tyranny and fascism over their fellow man.

  • The fact that this level of obvious racist BS is being defended is the issue. It is 2020! This short of garbage should have gone out with the fax machine, or maybe even the telegram.

  • It’s been a while since I’ve been to Fred’s or the Landing, having moved from New Hope this past year, and I have to say, I have mixed feelings. While I’ve never been a fan of PC, there are extremes, one of which I recently wrote about in the Star-Ledger and – “Fear and Loathing in New Jersey.”

    On the flip side, I agree that some of the people who are most critical about the sign in Fred’s should get a life, and maybe even take concrete steps to help in the struggle for racial justice. Of course, it’s easier to protest in lily white New Hope than take more meaningful social action.

    But here’s where I have mixed feelings. While I appreciate the humor in the sign that has since been taken down, I’m a white man. I wonder how I’d feel about it if I was Black and sitting down to breakfast at Fred’s with my family and read the sign. I think I’d find it offensive.

    Maybe that’s the litmus test. It’s not about PC, it’s about being sensitive to others with different cultural frames of reference, and about understanding that we need each other now more than ever.

      • Karen is an insulting, racist trope. I don’t like it, but I would never protest its use because I support free speech and thought.

        How ironic that people complaining about a racist trope feel it is okay to use a racist trope.

        Someone once said: “Be the change we want to see in the world.”

        It is a quote often erroneously attributed to Gandhi.

        No, Gandhi Did Not Say Be The Change You Want To See In The World

        As some have noted “Now this actually is good advice, and even though he didn’t actually say it the way we attribute it to him, I believe he’d support the idea. This notion of be the change you want to see in the world does 3 powerful things when we adopt it:

        It stops us from judging others;
        It replaces complaining about others with reflection on self;
        It stirs us into taking action within the only thing in the world over which we have any control: ourselves.”

  • I always felt Fred’s “Breakfast Club” was a snotty and pretentious concept anyhow. What undesirables are they trying to keep out? A member has to sponsor you? It’s a freakin’ diner, for pete’s sake.

  • Last night I woke up hungry from an amazing dream.

    Instead of pumping money into our cancel culture, basement dwellers, takers, and the faux-rona virus, investment was put into creating a vaccine for liberals.

    Only a dream, but I am hungry for breakfast.

  • Nowhere in the (somewhat childish) sign does it say anything about race. Why do people immediately jump to the conclusion that the sign alludes to race? This is an issue of the stereotypes held in the minds of those that are offended. They need to work on that issue with their counselors.

    • …it literally reads that the dogs are mixed in color. We all know race is a social construct with a basis in skin COLOR. Taken in the context of the other attributes mentioned, which CLEARLY are meant to personify the dogs with attributes commonly recognized among humans, it’s exceedingly clear this had racial overtones, undertones, actual statements about race. Please don’t be obtuse. We can talk about being overly sensitive because there are certainly those times when people overreact. This is not one of those times. Don’t be a gas lighter. It’s completely counter productive.

  • Sorry, friend, being a liberal does NOT mean tolerating the self-righteous new style racism of the #DonaldDumbass era. We liberals have EVERY right to call out racist attitudes, jokes and policies, especially those of us whose lives are detrimentally affected because of such attitudes. The new style of racism and hate; we have every right to be ignorant, hateful and discriminatory, but YOU are wrong for mentioning or calling it out. You want to be ignorant, hateful, mysogynist or racist? Then you pay the price. Cancel culture works BOTH ways. Telling those of us affected by racism and our allies to stay silent is NEVER acceptable, even from a so-called liberal like yourself. Racism is not merely a difference of opinion. It is an attempt to demean deaden the lives of others.By the way, this applies to POC who apply racist attitudes to whites as well. Peace.

    • Isn’t it racist when the liberal left refers to Trump as the orange man. Trump can not help having that skin color.

      BTW: Biden’s skin also appears orangey, when he tans. All fair skin people tan in a golden orange way.

      As a fair skinned person who also tans golden orange, I find the term “orange man” offensive, but I never make a big deal about it because, I am not a pansy.

        • Pat Thiede:

          You know this, how?

          I grew up in Manhattan and actually met Donald Trump in person 20 years ago.

          He was NOT wearing makeup. His skin tone was similar in color to mine.

          Makeup can not totally hide one’s natural skin color, anyway. Makeup is an enhancement not a cover up.

          In any case, that is neither here nor there, the term is a racist term, as is the Terms Karen or Kyle to identify middle class white people.

          I find it offensive and racist.

          Why is it that the same people complaining about this sign, think it is okay to use the term orange man for anyone.

          Offensive racist remarks are a two-way street. If one wants respect, they must give respect.

          Also, one loses their moral high ground when they are screaming about racism but using racist terms to identify people of another color.

  • The owners had an opportunity to take a look at something offensive, develop compassion and insight for a variety of opinions, and engage in civil discussion. They could have been an example of unifying people in a community they claim to care about. Instead, they fanned the flames, invalidated real concerns, took the “shut up and dribble” stance, and their business will suffer.

  • I’m writing a historical fiction novel about a fugitive slave (Charles Ball) living in New Hope working discreetly on the canal and I haven’t been able to think of a good name for the coworker he has a racist encounter with that almost blows his cover. The name of the character is now Chris Bollenbacher and he is going to have a line that incorporates this controversy.

  • As a liberal, I will say the joke isn’t funny. But then again, it’s not offensive either. A true liberal is tolerant of other opinions and others sense of humor. I may not like the joke but I will fight for your right to tell the joke. This is still America. Freedom of speech is a right. If you don’t like the message or the joke, it’s ok. If you find it funny, it’s ok. In a free society, who are we to judge someone’s sense of humor or opinion. This cancel culture has gotten out of hand. Labeling someone a bigot or a racist because of a bad joke is extreme. We don’t need labels. We need tolerance. There is nothing racist about the picture posted on the wall. It’s a statement about the welfare system. It’s a statement about a system that has obvious flaws that allow people to take advantage of that system. If you find the joke unfunny, change the narrative. Instead Of boycotting a hardworking staff, protest against the state and ask them why this system has these obvious flaws. It seems that my fellow so called liberals are no longer liberal. There is no acceptance. No free thinking. If you find something offensive, it must immediately be cancelled. Stop boycotting hard working people and boycott those who take advantage of our society.

  • I guess it all depends on how you read the sign…

    “This morning I went to sign my dogs up for government assistance.” “At first the lady behind the plexiglass protective shield, said, the dogs are not eligible to draw benefits. I then began to explain to her that, my dog’s meet the qualifications defined on the paperwork. They are gender “neutered”, identify with multiple and diverse personalities. They are unable to find jobs because they are verbally challenged and have a limited understanding of verbal commands. They were raised by a single mother until they were, at a young age separated from their siblings, placed in cages until a foster or legal guardian could be identified… My dogs get their first check Friday.”

  • Oh give me a break. This is a horrible time we’re living in and you liberals aren’t making anyone’s life any easier. I hope everyone goes there to EAT!!! Grow up. You all say support local business.

    • Are you saying that if you are against a bigoted sign, you are automatically liberal? Does that mean if you are OK with bigoted signs you are automatically republican? I will never be going there to eat. I will support local businesses, but not those owned and operated by bigots too stupid to keep their backwards views to themselves.

  • It’s offensive, no doubt about it. But speaking just for me, I don’t get worked up over it or feel the need to organize a protest over some stupid words on a sign. If I was younger I might attend to meet liberal girls…news flash, that’s why a lot of dudes go to these things. What’s more confounding to me is the stupidity of a business owner hanging that sign in his restaurant. In New Hope! Have fun at the protest, I might stop by for the entertainment value.

    • Cece, that’s borderline libelous. I read your pasted link. There’s nothing in there that suggests sexual harassment by the owner. It was mostly unproven allegations against “New Waitress” by what appears to be a very sensitive litigious employee. And the main beef was that the owner didn’t intervene with New Waitress. The panel concluded there was no harassment. But hey, don’t let the facts contradict your oh so predictable narrative.

      • Fair enough, let me be clearer:

        Sexual harassment took place in his establishment with his knowledge and with his involvement. Instead of eliminating it, he defended it and told her to (paraphrasing) “stop complaining or be fired”.

        The board ruled against him, in favor of her.

        He appealed to the court.

        The also ruled against him.

        Digging in his heels over and over, whether it comes to sexual harrassment complaints or posting bigoted “jokes”, doesn’t seem to be doing him any good.

        • Ford is a big company…no doubt there have been legit accusations of sexual harassment in that org. By your logic CEO Jim Hackett is guilty of harassment. Dude stand down on the knee jerk liberal reactions…you’re the most predictable poster on this site. Try thinking first before your prescriptive reactions.

        • Cecil:

          Wrong: Actually it was NOT concluded that sexual harassment was involved. The information at the link cited: Intolerable work place and the people reviewing the case stated that it was a close call, but decided to give her unemployment insurance, anyway.

          Here are the exact words taken from your link:

          (((“Leavitt concluded, “The Board concluded that Claimant demonstrated an intolerable work environment. She complained to Owner, who did not address her concerns. This is a close case, but we cannot say that the Board abused its discretion in holding that Claimant established a necessitous and compelling reason to resign. Accordingly, we affirm.””)))

          In addition, Cecil, This waitress was not specifically claiming to be sexually harassed.

          In addition, there were no witnesses mentioned to support the claim and the waitress exhibiting her boobs had no complaints.

          Personally as a woman, I hate when a waitress shows off her boobs. But it is her problem not mine.

          Also, as a woman, I unfortunately have have met a handful of women, who joke about making a career out of leveling spurious claims against their male employers in order to provoke them to settle out of court for money.

          One of these women admits her claims are false. She laughs about her “he said/she said” claims, but crows about how she has three times, provoked an employer to simply hand her large sums of money to go away.

          It’s a tactic used by some unscrupulous women.

          This type of fraud annoys me because this can hurt women by making men reluctant to hire women for certain positions.

  • Trumps America. These nasty bigots think they can bigot without repercussions, but we will no longer allow this. We will destroy your rep and your business. When trump loses bigly, you bigots will crawl back into the sewers and never be seen again. God bless America.

    • Well, at least when I eat in there now I will be surrounded by like-minded people. I expect it will be quite pleasant. Hopefully, Norman stays far away after his virtue-signaling this Saturday. “We will no longer allow . . .we will destroy . . . our foes will crawl. . .” Are you typing this stuff from your basement, Norman? Loser.

    • Trumps America? Give me a break. 4 or more years ago, before the PC movement, comedians were saying things like this on TV or in comedy clubs all of the time and most people found it funny and laughed. People need to lighten up.

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