Raleigh’s Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing is facing a social media backlash for canceling an event after the restaurant discovered it was being hosted by the Wake County chapter of the Conservative group Moms 4 Liberty.
The restaurant’s management group made the decision to cancel the event after it determined the group’s values were not in line with its own. In an email to Julie Page, chair of the Wake County chapter, Wye Hill management said, in part, “Allowing your group to host an event on our premises would negate what we stand for ... We support a safe space for all individuals, no matter how they identify. In particular we support a safe space for the LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming communities. Our values are clearly not in alignment with those of Moms 4 Liberty.”
Wye Hill owners Sara Abernethy and Chris Borreson initially agreed to an interview with Eater Carolinas but later, through a representative, said that they had decided not to comment publicly further.
Moms 4 Liberty was founded in Florida on January 1, 2021 and chapters have since sprung up in communities across the country. The group has pushed for removing LGBTQ literature from public schools, banning transgender athletes from playing school sports, and advancing the narrative that “Critical Race Theory” is being taught to children.
Page, in an email to Moms 4 Liberty members, responded by saying, “We will NOT be canceled. We will NOT allow the crazies to stop us. We WILL continue to stand up for freedom, liberty, and our God-given parental rights to direct the upbringing of our children!”
Katherine Johnson, a local pre-law student, is the one who alerted the restaurant to the connection between the event reservation and the group. Johnson gained access to the Wake Moms 4 Liberty chapter.
“It was easy to get into their chapter. All you need is an email address,” Johnson says. She knew that Wye Hill promotes inclusion and equality, citing the “Black Lives Matter” painting on the side of the restaurant’s building. “I knew that this could not happen.”
Wye Hill has since received a torrent of one-star reviews on Google, Yelp, and other platforms, many from people outside of the community, along with a slew of new five-star reviews from supporters. On Twitter, things got nasty, with user @Matt_Littlejohn baselessly claiming the owners were “groomers”, a common refrain heard in far-right media, and going on to call them anti-Christian. Another user @AnonAmericanPat accused Wye Hill ownership of being racist, and somewhat incongruously equated the cancelation of the event with transgender identity. (A quick search of the Wake Chapter of Moms 4 Liberty and LinkedIn would appear to show that all four members of the chapter’s leadership team are white women.)
For Abernathy and Borreson, their representative told Eater Carolinas that the pair will continue to focus on their staff, restaurant operations, and upcoming events like this weekend’s children’s book sale. The restaurant posted on Facebook, “In support of our LGBTQ community both in Raleigh and beyond, we will be hosting a children’s book sale this weekend featuring Love Makes A Family, Julian Is A Mermaid, My Two Moms & Me, Families Belonging, and more.”