Los Angeles bar group Pouring With A Heart, formerly 213 Hospitality, are under fire amidst a police hate crime investigation and allegations of transphobia at their property Las Perlas. Protests, both online and onsite, targeted the tequila bar after video emerged of Las Perlas’ bouncers physically ejecting transgender patrons.
“Don’t touch me like that!”
On Friday night (8.23) evening, a group of transgender women and gay men met at Las Perlas. Most of the friends are employees of Bienestar Human Services, a non-profit that provides medical and social support to the Latino and LGBTQ+ communities. They were celebrating their roles in “DTLA PROUD,” a nearby LGBTQ+ rally.
Members of the group said that a heterosexual couple approached them in the bar and began shouting transphobic slurs.
“The group of trans women tried to de-escalate the situation, then the couple shouted and threatened the group by saying, ‘We will come back and kill you,’” according to a statement from Bienstar.
Las Perlas management then intervened. The alleged instigators and the LGBTQ+ organizers were both asked to leave. However, Bienestar said that not only were their group victims of the initial transphobic aggressors, but the ejection, itself, also belied discrimination.
“While the heterosexual couple was asked to leave the establishment, the group of trans women were approached by bar security staff and eventually physically and aggressively removed from the bar,” the non-profit stated.
Khloe Perez-Rios, one of the LGBTQ+ group, caught the ejection on video. In the footage, one can see a bouncer grabbing a woman as she pleas to retrieve her shoe. She can be heard repeatedly objecting, “Don’t touch me like that!”
THREAD: Last night in #DTLA trans women and queer men were forcibly removed from @LasPerlasLA against their will after being subject to #transphobia #hate and #homophobia (1/4) pic.twitter.com/HbiYHJEBlm
— Nicholas Turton 🏳️🌈 (@turton_nicholas) August 24, 2019
Another bouncer can be seen walking up to a seated woman, placing her in a headlock, and then shoving her out the door.
The Los Angeles Police Department responded to the incident, but the heterosexual couple had already left. A LAPD spokesperson said the event is being investigated as a hate crime.
Perez-Rios’ video was posted to social media. At press time, the footage had over 270,000 views.
Outraged by the incident, thousands posted negative comments across Pouring with Heart’s social media accounts. Initially, the account administrators deleted the negative posts.
The bar group owns Seven Grand Whiskey Bar (LA, SD, ATX, DEN), Bar Jackalope, Bar Three Piece, Las Perlas (DTLA, ATX, WEHO), The Varnish, Caña Rum Bar, Bar Clacson, The Slipper Clutch, Cole’s French Dip, Tony’s Saloon, 4100 Bar, Arts District Brewing Company, The Streamliner, Imperial Western, Broadway Bar, Golden Gopher, The Normandie Club, Casey’s Irish Pub, and Half Step.
On Saturday (8.24) afternoon, Pouring responded with with a statement from their chief, Cedd Moss
“Last evening, an escalated verbal altercation broke out among two groups of guests,” said the statement. “Our manager on duty asked both groups to leave as the safety and security of our patrons and employees is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior in our establishments. The guards removed the guests that were not compliant with the manager’s request to leave and did so in accordance with company policy.”
“This was a rare and unfortunate incident as Las Perlas has provided an inclusive and welcoming environment since it opened almost 10 years ago. We will continue to value and celebrate the diversity of the downtown Los Angeles community we are so proud to be a part of and all profits from Las Perlas during this weekend’s DTLA PROUD (8/23- 8/25) will be donated to Bienestar Human Services: https://www.bienestar.org.”
The plan to donate weekend profits was short-lived. Instead, protestors gathered in front of Las Perlas on Saturday. The venue chose to close thirty minutes before the start of the rally.
Pouring Announces Reforms
That first statement from Pouring elicited even more criticism on social media. On Sunday (8.25), the hospitality conglomerate issued a second release. The new text offered an explicit apology as well as a plan to create more inclusive venues.
“On Friday night there was an altercation at Las Perlas and our outside security staff removed several patrons from both sides of the altercation. Our first and primary concern, and has been from day one, is to operate a safe place for all people. Period, no exceptions,” read the introduction. We regret that didn’t happen Friday night, and want to apologize to all of our guests including the Transgender community, a community who has come to our bar as well as works there. We are taking immediate steps to fully investigate what happened on Friday and to address each concern that we’ve received since then.”
The release also noted several steps forward. Las Perlas committed to hiring a new security company who has undergone sensitivity training. The group retained outside counsel to review security footage of the incident and formulate recommendations. Pouring announced their intention to find a community partner to “help us move forward in the most positive way possible including staff and vendor training.”
“This incident is not in alignment with who we are and our intent is to prove this in action and deed, not words and hyperbole,” the statement concluded. “Thank you for giving us this chance.”