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OC Bar’s Cinco de Mayo Game Had Guests Climb Inflatable Wall for ‘Green Cards’

The Dana Point drink spot is coming under heavy fire

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Hennessey’s Tavern, Dana Point
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Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

An Orange County, California, pub is running into blowback after an ill-advised Cinco de Mayo promotion that offered customers a chance to win a ‘green card’ by climbing an inflatable wall.

The OC Weekly first reported on the story over the weekend, showing photos of the deal at Hennessey’s Tavern in Dana Point wherein customers who successfully navigated the children’s inflatable wall would earn free booze by way of a printed-out drink ticket made to look like an actual permanent resident ID card. The bar has other locations across Southern California as well, including Carlsbad, La Jolla, Las Vegas, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach.

Hennessey’s Yelp page is currently being inundated with negative reviews and shots of the card in question, which you can see below:


Cinco de Mayo in the States has long been a sort of shorthand for cheap drinks and deals on Mexican-American food at bars nationwide, but celebrations like the one at Hennessey’s Tavern have taken on a more ominous tone this year following an increase in ICE immigration raids, and President Donald Trump’s own anti-Mexican rhetoric dating back to the primaries.

Strangely, owner Paul Hennessey claims in a Saturday follow-up post on Facebook that the promotion was meant to actually bring attention to the proposed wall that President Trump has been fighting to build along the Mexican border. The full text of the post is below:

Of course, that hasn’t stopped plenty of commenters from arguing that a faux green card party may not be the best use of anyone’s time. The cards themselves were also pretty damning, with a cartoon image of a Latina woman bearing the name Isabel Orlando across the top.

A promotional flier distributed before the event (that the OC Weekly got their hands on) does include the terminology “tacos trump hate” but otherwise there’s not much indication that the whole thing was meant as a political act, let alone one meant to “create a dialogue and show how ridiculous that it is to spend tens of millions of dollars to build a wall.”

The seemingly racist Hennessey Tavern promotion is far from the first instance of cross-cultural insensitivity in the Orange County restaurant scene. Back in March a waiter at Saint Marc Pub-Cafe in Huntington Beach was fired after openly asking one table of diners to show “proof of residency” before letting them eat at the restaurant.