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after-dinner mints at Kauai Pasta - comments, please!!!

after-dinner mints at Kauai Pasta - comments, please!!!

Mar 10th, 2005, 05:24 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 459
after-dinner mints at Kauai Pasta - comments, please!!!

Aloha, everyone! We just got back from our 2 week trip (12th sensational one!) to Kauai (trip report to follow soon), and I wanted to share the following restaurant experience to get your feedback:

After having heard some positive buzz about Kauai Pasta, a new casual Italian restaurant in Kapa'a, Kauai, we decided to give it a try last week. The owner-chef was the executive chef at Roy's on Kauai for several years, and the word was that this restaurant was a good value for fine Italian food in an unassuming setting. We found all of this to be true, and were impressed by how efficiently well-run this family operation was, as well as by the quality and generous portions of the food on the limited menu - they did everything well. We had decided by the end of the meal that we would definitely come back when we return to Kauai next year. At the end of the meal, along with the bill came the after-dinner mints; but these were not your ordinary after-dinner mints - the front of the wrapper was labelled "testamints", with the 1st "t" clearly in the shape of a religious cross, and on the back side of each of our wrappers was a different Bible quotation (New TestaMINT!). While this alone was somewhat disconcerting since there had been no previous context to it, i.e. no religious paintings, etc., when I opened the wrapper, the mint, which was in the shape of a Velamint, was clearly engraved on the surface with yet another religious cross - nothing else, just the cross. At this point, I felt quite unsettled and very uncomfortable, and it quickly displaced the positive feeling I had had up to that point for the restaurant - it just seemed like an inappropriate venue for these religious references and was a curious choice, given that it has the potential to alienate a fair percentage of their clientele. Before we left, I went up to the chef-owner, Russell Stokes, and while praising him on the overall experience of the restaurant, I let him know that I felt uncomfortable with these mints being handed out in a restaurant setting. He responded as though I had 3 heads, incredulous that I would feel uncomfortable with this, and he simply apologized for the fact that I felt uncomfortable by it (you know, one of those "non-apology apologies").

So, here's the bottom line - we WILL give Kauai Pasta another try next year, but most of the people of varying faiths with whom I have discussed this incident have also felt that this was a rather strange and inappropriate thing for the restaurant to do. Now, dear Fodorites, I put it to you - what say you about this???

Mahalo for your feedback!
margot55 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2005, 05:38 PM
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Just asking, margot55, would you have felt the same if the mints had a buddha on them? If the owners choose to give out free "testamints", you are free to take them or leave them; or dine there or not, as you wish. What's the big deal?
Maggi is offline  
Mar 10th, 2005, 05:57 PM
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Indeed, there are Buddha "EnlightenMints" available! Good question. Would the Haole visitor or tourist to Buddhist lands take offense to an "EnlightenMint" at the end of the meal? What if the restaurant served Halal or Kosher food? Would it offend the tongue or other sensibilities? Would the mint taste as minty by any other name? If I were the restaurant owner I am sure I wouldn't offer Testamints, primarily for concern of somehow offending the sensibilities of some customers as seems to have happened here.
Binthair is offline  
Mar 10th, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Maggi - I would have felt the same way, whether Buddha, Star of David, etc. The issue is NOT about eating it or not eating it - I am fully aware of that choice - the "big deal", as you phrase it, is that while the chef-owner is absolutely entitled to be passionate about his faith (and more power to him!), it seems just as inappropriate for him to pass out these mints with the check as it would if instead he handed out religious leaflets with the checks. For example, I have no problem if he wants to wear a cross in the workplace - fine! But handing out these mints crossed a line for both me and my husband, one that borders on proselytizing...in any case, this is why I'm interested in the feedback, so thanks!
margot55 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2005, 06:10 PM
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I agree. I stopped having my car washed at a place that left a flyer on my dash each time proclaiming that Jesus loved me and I needed to embrace him -- or some such thing. I only wanted my car washed -- not a conversion!
Patrick is offline  
Mar 10th, 2005, 06:15 PM
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Patrick - looks like the only difference between you and me is that I support separation of Church and Restaurant, while you support separation of Church and Car Wash!
margot55 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2005, 06:26 PM
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Good one. But actually I support both those!
Patrick is offline  
Mar 10th, 2005, 09:41 PM
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mmmmwell, margot55, Hawaii is a little different from the rest of the country. I used to work at an ad agency and we had one guy in production who was passionate about his Christianity. With the owner's permission, he conducted a small, unintrusive Bible study in one of the conference rooms every Wednesday. Anyone who felt like it could join in. At every Christmas party, we would also have him say grace to open the party.

No one ever blinked or thought twice about it. Not everyone was Christian; everyone just figured that if he was the most passionate about his chosen religion/denomination and it didn't bother anyone, until someone said they were offended it was not hurting anyone. Then one day a guy from New York pointed out that you would never find such a strong support for a preferred religion on the mainland, even in open-minded ad agencies. (He wasn't offended, just pointing it out. ) People were so surprised to hear that!

We go to Galangal, the vegetarian restaurant run by Hare Krishnas, because we like their food. People work their meal schedule around La Bamba, which is wildly popular Mexican food, because they are closed on Saturday on account they are devout 7th Day Adventists. And, when I go to some nonprofit board meetings, it opens in prayer. No one ever thinks twice.
MelissaHI is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 02:25 AM
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Maybe the restaurant got a discount on the mints, or maybe they were given them free. Or maybe they have regulars who find the custom touching, what would I know? Now, if they'd served wine and wafers aftet the meal, I'd start getting suspicious, but after dinner mints???!!

About the flyer incident, ANY unsolicited flyer is annoying - the medium, in that case, is the message for me, and I don' like it! On the other hand, other media suit me quite well. Cathedrals in Europe are visible for miles, ditto temples and mosques in other lands, and I'm not about to see them torn down on the pretext that to build such imposing, literally, messages is wrong. Besides I'll take after-dinner mints over people ringing my doorbell or telephone, or jamming my email box, any day.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 03:13 AM
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I'm with you, Sue! Much ado about nada.
bounty is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 03:23 AM
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A little unusual - but try to add it to your collections of unique things that have happened to you on your travels - sometimes thngs that start out as initially negative to us have a more positive aftereffect - like getting stranded in an airport and meeting some fascinating people.

Whether this owner was expressing his strong religious beliefs, thought they fit into his restaurant theme, or a really unique marketing tool (you have already given him some increased marketing here) - who knows.
gail is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 03:41 AM
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Hmmm...some interesting perspectives so far! And while it doesn't change anything about my own visceral reaction to the experience, I really do appreciate your thoughtful responses. Let's hear more...
margot55 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:16 AM
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Interesting thread, and concept. Personally I like a mint have dinner and couldn't care less what's on it.

I don't think it matters what *we* think, as it's not *our* restaurant. If the owner chooses to *advertise* his faith in that manner, it's his choice.
Regardless what he chooses to advertise, what religion, what lifestyle, even what recent movie he thinks you should see!
Since it's not a chain restaurant (although even franchisors may have that option) you had (have) the choice to take the mint, or leave it.
It doesn't sound like you were forced to pick it up, or eat it.

Then when *you* open and operate a restaurant, you too can choose to distribute mints.
Or not.
wanderluster is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:31 AM
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I agree. Much ado about nothing. If you are offended by the after dinner mint, politely refuse it. Heaven help us (no pun intended) if small business owners can't offer FREE mints with whatever message they choose. Your right is to decline the mint or take your business elsewhere.
starrsville is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:38 AM
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I am with Margo and Patrick. Yes, Margo had a choice but she did not know about it before her dinner.
For the same reason we never eat at one local restaurant with a big sign "Christian meals." I don't know what this means and I don't wish to find out but at least they are open about it. My choice is not to eat there.
Mama is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:43 AM
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margot -
I have stopped going to a local ice cream place because they have the Jesus fish on their sign. Since I am Christian, I shouldn't be offended, but it makes me wonder how friends of other faiths would feel if they decided to go to that ice cream place. Excluded perhaps?

BUT I recognize that the owner of this private restaurant can do whatever he chooses to do because it is his restaurant...I would just make the personal decision not to go.

I completely understand that others responding do not think that this is such a big deal, but to me it is the top of a very slippery slope.

I have a copy of the Rev. Niemoller quote on my office wall "In Germany they first came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist..."

I try to keep that in my mind at all times. My friends and family roll their eyes whenever I get started.
reneeinva is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:45 AM
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"it seems just as inappropriate for him to pass out these mints with the check as it would if instead he handed out religious leaflets with the checks"

I agree 100 percent; I would have found this unsettling, too. It's not the same thing as conducting a bible study group by invitation, or operating a restaurant that's clearly run by a religious group or individuals who observe specific religious beliefs (kosher, closed on sabbath, whatever).
Anonymous is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 05:22 AM
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What next? A drive-by minting. An independent business owner can do whatever he wants, within the law, and you have the right to not do business with him. Oh Heavens, he attacked you sensitivities with a message-bearing mint AFTER you ate there. We need a law to prevent that from ever happening again (sarcasm). I'm not saying it's good business practice because it offended you, but maybe this man feels that others enjoy it or that he is serving a higher calling by spreading the Word.

Much ado about nothing, I guess!

What I am really confused by is Renee. Why would a Christian stop patronizing a business because of what "others might think". Just because there is a Christian symbol on the door. WWJD? I'd think Jesus would invite everyone to sit and "break bread (er, ice cream)" with him no matter what their religious views.

Honestly, if this is all people have to worry about, we are truly a lucky people.
Jasmine is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 05:22 AM
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if the restaurant serves good food, I would go back, at least the entrees aren't in shapes of religious signs. Although I do think it's kinda weird that they did that to the mint, I think I would have eaten it anyway, free mint~
kalunchi is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 05:32 AM
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I think of a Jewish friend and wonder if he/she would feel welcome in that establishment. If he/she wouldn't, I cannot feel comfortable there either.

WWJD? Maybe not put the symbol up?
reneeinva is offline  

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