For a refreshing change, meet someone you’d like to sit next to at a bar or a conference or a pizzeria. Meet Rocco DiGrazia.
Editor’s note: Rocco DiGrazia describes himself as a “failed anthropologist and thwarted musician, but a decent father and passable pizzaiolo.” He owns Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson, Arizona, and is married with two children.
Ahhh, you’re saying to yourself, that Rocco. Yes. He wrote this piece explaining why he put that sign in the window.
In the days leading up to this, I put a sign in the window of my pizzeria that said: “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona legislators.” The reaction was vastly and overwhelmingly positive, with only a few people telling me they wouldn’t ever eat at my restaurant again. Mainly, we have received many, many messages of support; phone calls, e-mails and texts, from people who live in Tucson, across the state and even from outside the United States.
The sign is part of a tradition we have. When I moved into the supposedly cursed restaurant space on Broadway in Tucson, Arizona, 15 years ago, I found a box of letters — the kind you put on a marquee sign out front. By the end of the day, I had a message on the sign. We’ve been changing it every day since. I am often told people plan their routes to see what we have to say each day — even if just for a chuckle.
Kind of like Twitter, or a blog.
Then I learned that the state Senate once again passed an appalling bill that attempted to save me from my fellow Arizonans. I thought, “Oh no, not again.” If anything seemed ripe for parody, this was it.
It was irresistible. I instantly typed a comment on my Facebook page, saying that the busybodies in the capital of Phoenix were not allowed to come in and sit at my table. Minutes later, one of my followers supplied the sign that so eloquently expressed my viewpoint. I laminated it, and by that afternoon it was on my doors.
Since then, a lot of similar signs showed up in the windows of Tucson businesses saying “We reserve the right to serve anybody.”
So, in a way, he’s not a failed anthropologist at all.
This legislation was ostensibly trying to protect religious freedom. A lot of Christian groups feel like they’re being persecuted by our culture, and that is really what underlies this bill. But if they feel like they’re being persecuted, they should try being gay for a little while.
I cannot condone discrimination against one group of people. Regardless of the kind intentions of the lawmakers to the north of Tucson that were trying to make sure I have freedom of religion, I already have it. This bill was gratuitous as well as ridiculous. I can already refuse service to anyone — and that includes any one of those several dozen Arizonans who aren’t representing my views in Phoenix.
An excelllent Rocco.