SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Both Republican and Democratic supporters have scheduled a rally on Wednesday evening in front of the controversial sign at Barnacle Bill's restaurant.
Supporters for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced Monday they plan to rally at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in front of Barnacle Bill's on U.S. 41.
The controversial sign, posted by owner William Davis, reads "NRA member, concealed carry OK, I am a deplorable, vote Trump." He later changed the sign to read, "Not a deplorable."
Hillary Clinton had said "half" of Donald Trump's supporters are "deplorables," and later expressed regret for being "grossly generalistic" by using the word "half." She said she was calling out a portion of the bigotry in Trump's supporters.
Sarasota County GOP Chairman Joe Gruters sent out a flyer later Monday in response to the Dem gathering stating, "We can't let Bill stand alone!" He is calling the event a Pro-Trump, Pro-2nd Amendment Sign Waving Rally at the same place and same time as the Dem supporters set.
On a Facebook post made Thursday, more than 900 comments ranged from comical to furious for the NRA and the presidential candidates. People said they would visit the restaurant more while others said they would not go at all.
One comment read: "Keep politics out of seafood!"
Others of note:
“All businesses are in their right to post these signs. But remember there are people on the other side who might choose not to go to your restaurant because of it.”
“It's the owner's sign,” reads another. “He/she can post whatever they want, but I don't think it's a wise move. It will turn away a lot of business, both from Democrats, and even people who don't care about politics but are against/fear open carry.”
“This is America, it's his business and it's his right to vote how he chooses and so do I. It won't change where I eat if I like the food.”
Another comment reads how, “Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, however, this is a business not a person. Businesses should always avoid politics, lest it have a negative impact on the business and the employees.”
Of course, some commenters choose to be more upfront in expressing their opinions.
“Since I don't carry a concealed weapon and I'm not a deplorable that business has lost a customer,” reads one comment.
Another commenter said the business, “Shows some serious ego and that would be a turn off no matter what the political view is.”
"Broadcast a special, not your favoritism,” says another.
“I'm going to have to head over there. I wonder if I can get the deplorable discount?”
And the comments go on and on and on.
Politics aside, one thing remains clear; the text on B-Bill’s billboard is receiving a flood of passionate reviews.
Restaurant owner William Davis says he doesn't usually take such a public position, but he plans on leaving this message up until the election is over.
"If you're going to make a statement, you got to go all the way," says Davis.
From now until election day, William Davis wants other "deplorables" to know they're welcome at Barnacle Bill's on North Tamiami Trail.
"It was a big gamble on my part, because usually dealing with the public, I try to sit on the fence and not take sides," says Davis. "I just couldn't do it anymore."
Davis posted the political message Tuesday after Hillary Clinton used the phrase "basket of deplorables" to describe half of Trump supporters at a recent fundraiser -- something which she later said was "grossly generalistic."
"I got rather upset when I heard that comment from Hillary, and I just felt I had to take a stand and let people know where I stood," says Davis.
"Well it makes us look like we're Trump supporters if we eat at a restaurant where there's a Trump sign, and we're not, we're Hillary supporters," says John Hanlon, who has had lunch at Barnacle Bill's every Thursday for the last four-five years.
Tom Benjamin, a friend of Hanlon's, adds, "We've gotten to know the staff really well, and we really like it here. But we saw that sign, and just in good conscience, we can't eat here anymore."
Some who choose Barnacle Bill's for lunch were mostly indifferent to the message.
"I think what the heck? He's a citizen, he can do what he wants," says Joseph LiVolsi. "It won't affect me, no."
"I think people are allowed to choose whoever they want to choose," adds Gary Kuentzler.
Davis harbors no hard feelings, saying everyone is entitled to their opinion. He adds that most of those driven away so far have since been replaced by new customers anyways.
He says, "I have people walking in, and they go 'We're deplorable, may we have a seat?'"