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This Mexican Restaurant's Trump Wall-Themed Billboard Is Pissing People Off

After seeing the company’s latest billboards—which read “The best Mexican food this side of the wall”—some people are definitely not loving the irreverence all that much.

by Alex Swerdloff
Aug 17 2016, 5:00pm

"A slightly irreverent party place." That's how Hacienda Mexican Restaurants, the Indiana-based chain, markets itself on its website. "It's who we are and you love us for it," the chain claims. But after seeing the company's latest billboards—which read "The best Mexican food this side of the wall"—some people are definitely not loving the irreverence all that much.

One of those people would be Sam Centallas, executive director of La Casa de Amistad, a Hispanic youth and community center in South Bend, Indiana. Centellas finds the billboard not funny at all, and posted on his Facebook page: "Really disappointed #‎Hacienda continues to push past what is acceptable for advertising. Not a fan of most of their billboards but this is just too much #‎TakeItDown."

Centellas told the South Bend Tribune, "Imagine you're a Latino working for this company. How do you feel going to work? That's more on my mind than anything." He said, "I couldn't imagine seeing my employer put something like that up and having to go to work on Monday."

READ MORE: All Hell Broke Loose After the Owners of This Mexican Restaurant Showed Support for Trump

Hacienda Mexican didn't just jump into the fray of politically fringed humor since presidential candidate Donald Trump raised the threat of building a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants. Back in 2006, the chain ran an ad featuring a little person of Hispanic descent wearing a sombrero and carrying a take-out bag. Tagline? "Take home a little Mexican." They pulled the ads following lots and lots of complaints.

Then in 2011, in a tip of the hat to the Jonestown cult-suicide massacre, the chain created an ad with a picture of a margarita and this tagline: "We're like a cult with better Kool-Aid. To die for!" They had to pull those ads too.

Someone at Hacienda Mexican clearly has a dark sense of humor, a nose for controversy, and doesn't give a shit about offending diminutive Mexicans, relatives of cult victims, or the 11.7 million Mexican immigrants living in America—or those who sympathize with the aforementioned groups.

READ MORE: A Mexican Restaurant Allegedly Kicked Out Patrons for Supporting Trump

In response to the critics of their newest ad, Executive Vice President Jeff Leslie of Hacienda Mexican Restaurants said, "We never do advertising to upset anybody. And if anybody is upset over it, that certainly was not our intent."

He continued: "We do use humor in our outdoor [advertising], and we felt we crafted a board here that didn't take a political position," Leslie said. "It's really not pro-wall or anti-wall." In fact, Leslie said, "We hire a lot of Hispanics. We're very proud of our Hispanic employees. We're very supportive of our Hispanic amigos. And we are still and will continue to be very supportive of them and their families. And that goes both ways."

Given their track record, Hacienda Mexican may very well be pulling their wall-referencing ads sometime very soon. But not before they get everyone riled up—and they get plenty of media coverage, too.

Touché, Hacienda Mexican. Touché.

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Hacienda Mexican Restaurants