Kenneth Choate walked out the front door of the localvore hotspot he helped open a year ago and saw a man taking pictures.
He was stunned to look up at the sign in front of Roots Bistro on West-heimer to read:
BE LIKE VIOLENCE
Choate had asked an employee to change the sign Saturday, and said the worker apparently found the expression when he googled "best business signs."
It was up for about 10 minutes, Choate estimates - long enough for a passerby to take a photo and Tweet it, sparking a social media backlash. Choate said he'd received four phone calls and visits from TV reporters about the short-lived sign.
He would understand if the organic, farm-to-table bistro lost business, but Choate insists it was a temporary lapse in judgment that doesn't reflect the restaurant's larger philosophy. Choate notes they recently hosted and donated to a fund raiser for an AIDS assistance group and another to offer scholarships to LGBT students.
"As the manager of this business, I have to own this and have to live with the circumstances," Choate said. "Anyone in business, or in life period, is going to make mistakes. This is not who we are. It was an asinine move for it to have gone up."
The business likes to have fun with its sign and sometimes pushes the envelope, Choate said, noting they once posted, "Our meat is hormone free but our servers are not."
Kyle Nielsen saw a friend post a photo of the sign on Facebook and drove past to see for himself, which by then had been changed to a call for equal rights.
Nielsen, who said he's personally been affected by domestic violence, was outraged.
"Domestic violence is something that often times happens behind closed doors and something like this makes it less likely victims will seek help," Nielsen said.
He protested shortly Sunday outside Roots, when Choate came out to speak with him.
"He was very apologetic, very friendly," Nielsen said. "He did seem sincere."