Small businesses offer bin Laden specials

May 3, 2011


As Americans took to the streets to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden, C. J. Grouse was rushing to print thousands of new t-shirts to take advantage of the occasion.

“This is probably the biggest bounce we’ve seen from an individual news story in the last five years of doing this,” said Grouse, 43, who launched RoadKill T-Shirts with his brother in 2005. “We had our designs up yesterday by noon and we sold over two thousand of the different designs in 24 hours.”

Grouse said his most popular seller has been a shirt with an Uncle Sam icon and the message: “We Got You Osama bin Laden May 1, 2011″. Other shirts include a bin Laden likeness behind red crosshairs and the slogan “Burn In Hell” and one inspired by Facebook, with the words: “Osama bin Laden Is Dead. 311,275,382 People Like This”.

Grouse said he normally sells about 2,600 t-shirts through the website every day, but expected to “more than double that” with the bin Laden merchandise.

“It’s driving traffic to us that we may not have seen in the past,” he said, noting the Cornelius, North Carolina-based company has done well in the past with shirts based on the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson and with the recent antics of actor Charlie Sheen. “We’re seeing business pretty much equal to a back-to-school peak for us. It’s been pretty impactful for the last two days.”

Restaurants were also jumping on the public euphoria surrounding bin Laden’s death by offering drink and food specials to patrons.

Seattle-based coffee house, Candi Shack, is offering cups of java for $1 as their “Osama bin Laden Shot In The Dark” special.

Prominent Cincinnati restaurateur Jeff Ruby is giving away free glasses of champagne to every guest at some of his high-end steakhouses. Ruby, who captured some notoriety four years ago when he refused to serve O.J. Simpson at his Louisville, Kentucky location, said the special was an emotional response to witnessing the news of bin Laden’s killing on TV.

“It was me getting emotional over that (OJ), just like with Osama,” admitted Ruby, who will be running the deal for the rest of the week and ordered an additional 40 cases of champagne to meet the demand. “Let’s just give a toast that this is over, at least this chapter of this evil murderer, and let’s celebrate the end of that guy and that he’s out of our lives.”

In Chicago, the Filter cafe is promoting “Bin Laden’s Remains”, a dish that includes a pita stuffed with steak, grilled onions, tomatoes, Swiss cheese and a side of “freedom fries” for $8.50.

“It’s gotten mixed reviews about the name, but the sandwich itself is pretty good,” said manager Ulises Martinez, who promoted the special on the restaurant’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. “Some people think it’s funny.”

But not everyone is laughing, as another Chicago-area bar discovered. Uncle Fatty’s Rum Resort was forced to pull its advertised drink specials featuring cocktails named “The Floating Terrorist” and “Osama Been Shot”, after some recipients of its promotional email were offended.

“There’s been some negative backlash to put it mildly,” said Samantha Crafton, a publicist for Empower Public Relations, which represents Uncle Fatty’s. She added the restaurant would be issuing an apology and retraction of the offensive cocktails, which were included as part of a the bar’s upcoming third-anniversary party. “Upon second thought we’re not really happy with the way that it portrays the business. (The party) is still absolutely moving forward, but anything associated with bin Laden’s death will not be happening at Uncle Fatty’s this weekend.”

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