I just met with two representatives of Knapp’s and the Knapp’s family of restaurants.
When I arrived corporate was actively meeting with the Republicans club AND the scheduled speaker for this evening. They, the club, the speaker, and Knapp’s, all agreed that the speaker would be canceled in response to concerns of safety and inclusivity for the Tacoma LGBTQ community. It appears that the club will still be meeting (as they have done regularly for years at this time in that space), but that tonight’s speaker will be taken off the agenda. The corporate representative for Knapp’s restaurant assured me that they had no idea this specific event was planned for this evening. This group has a standing reservation and it wasn’t until the event made traction on social media yesterday that they realized it wasn’t just a standard meetup. I pressed for reassurances that any events outside of normal meetings would be vetted in the future to insure that profiteers of hate would not be allowed a dais in a space where queer individuals would like to feel safe and welcomed too. I also pressed, because the meeting is still happening, that they go on the record that the speaker isn’t merely “cancelled”/flying under the radar, and I received assurances that she would not be speaking in any capacity.
Corporate was careful with their words, offering the standard lines one would expect (see official statement below) but I made it clear their credibility was on the line and they seemed to understand and insured me that they would follow through on what they profess. They said that this debacle has opened up lines of communication between themselves and the republicans club that previously had been reduced to an attendance number in the reservation book, and that any similarly overt hate-filled programing would not slip under the radar in the future.
The actual staff seemed devastated and distraught that this was even potentially in their place of employment to begin with. Corporate would not let any employees be recorded due to fears for their safety and retribution from those who might be angry at the cancellation. I agree that a server should not have to be the face of a business that has found itself in the middle of a heated debate, though I’d like to note that servers WERE willing to go on record in this way to lend credibility to their statements, they just weren’t allowed to; which again, I understand.
Even though corporate’s response didn’t have the teeth I would have hoped for, it IS clear that they didn’t know about this speaker nor the threat she poses, and they have canceled her out or respect for the community at large. The employees of Knapp’s hope that this act will insure you of their commitment to being an inclusive and safe environment for all who wish to dine and drink there, and the regular staff I spoke with seemed heartbroken that all this jeopardized that. I hope we can encourage them for doing the right thing in this instance, and give them the opportunity to follow through in the future, while simultaneously directing our outrage at the 27th district republicans who booked her in the first place.
Official corporate statement:
“Knapp’s has been a proud part of the Proctor community for longer than most of us have been alive. Many thanks to those who have shared concern for our reputation of respect and hospitality. We have a requested that tonight’s banquet booking cancel their speaker for the safety of our patrons, employees, and the community”
Side note: Mary Engelbreit was PISSED her image was used on the event page, reached out, and threatened to sue ✊🏻
Please share as you find appropriate.
From the server I spoke with this morning:
“Hi Leah, thank you so much for your help today.. after speaking with the owners we have completely canceled the meeting this evening and have asked they have all speakers approved by management.”