published Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Cook: Sofa king bad

Thanks a lot, burger guys.

My two little kids are learning how to read. They're kinda good at it. Berenstain Bears. Curious George. Some wimpy kid's diary.

And billboards. Signs. Whenever we're riding in the car, they're reading. Walmart. Taco Bell. Stop. Yield. 24-hour bookstore.

So what am I supposed to do when we drive by the Dayton Boulevard intersection -- right by the Waffle House, near the red light cameras -- and my two little readers look up at the sign atop the new burger joint?

Sofa King Juicy Burgers.

(Get it? Say it again, real fast).


Dad, my kids will ask, what's a sofa-king-juicy-burger?

Well, kids, you see, the birds and the bees. -- Wait. That's another conversation.

"So you're the glass-is-half-empty guy?" Greg Beairsto said, after I told him my objection to his restaurant name. "I find it interesting that's your initial take."

Beairsto and business partners Jeff Brakebill and Tim Kelly are the guys behind two inventive and popular local restaurants -- Aretha Frankenstein's and Crust Pizza -- and have been renovating the building adjacent to Waffle House for months, creating a decor with, appropriately, a very long '50s-era sofa inside.

"I happen to love that era," said Beairsto.

Yeah? Well what would Dr. Spock -- or June Cleaver -- say about your sign? (Which, by the way, hasn't been unveiled yet. They're not sure when the place will open. So the corner of Dayton Boulevard is still PG-rated).

"Please know there was no evil intent," he said. "We're just trying to make a buck and put people to work and put a smile on our face while we're doing it."

Both are fathers. Who love their kids. Who also love to laugh. And claim the restaurant is kid-friendly.

"A playful wink," he said of the sign. "[The restaurant] is not owned by Lucifer or Beelzebub."

How will this fly in Red Bank? Never would this restaurant have been so named 10 years ago. But today? It's almost like a cultural litmus test.

Beairsto told me the sign -- partially inspired by a "Saturday Night Live" skit -- was a mirror of sorts, reflecting more about me than the restaurant: I could read it as evidence the world is horrible, going to hell, or -- laugh.

"Are you going to block your kid from the reality that there is a Playboy or Penthouse magazine out there?" he asked.

Umm -- yes. Sure am gonna try.

"It seems to me almost like a parenting issue," he said. "It's almost a lesson in growing up."

My initial reaction to their sign? I wanted to shield my kids. Hide their eyes. Not add another ounce to the already sofa-king long list [sexting, pill parties, Lady Gaga, Scott DesJarlais] of cultural monsters I wish would vanish away into Narnia or Never Never Land.

"There is a vulgar side to this world that is not going away," a good friend said last week. "You can only shelter your kids so much."

Shelter? I'm just trying to let them stay kids as long as possible. Sure, there are far bigger worries in the world than this little restaurant. Still, why make such a sign if you don't have to?

"We're trying to help Red Bank turn the corner ... pun intended," Beairsto said. "We want to improve the community and create a dining destination."

The restaurant will use only grass-fed, local beef and organic ingredients as much as possible. The slew of fast-food joints within a seat cushion's throw of the Sofa King may have innocent names, but are the large engines behind the obesity crisis.

(Should be called Sofa-Tenning.)

So does Sofa King Juicy Burger's healthiness outweigh its inappropriate sign?

"We're going to do our damnedest to create an incredible burger experience," he said. "Or should I say darndest?"

I'm sure it'll be wonderful. Look for us there. Eating burgers, with my kids blindfolded.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
rides2far said...

Count on me to not show up. I've just drawn a line. I can't change society, but I don't have to participate in the slide downhill. Why is it that it's assumed that the "healthy eating" crowd is also the socially liberal crowd? It's not cutting edge to be lewd any more. When the majority is trashy, you stand out by being clean. What a shame. A retro 1950s look would have appealed to those who wish we could turn back the moral clock (and I wasn't born in the 50's).

November 25, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.
Vapfo said...

It is not too late to change the name of the establishment and it should be changed. I was shocked that this was even considered because of the vulgarity. It is not funny unless you are a 7th grade boy.
I hope when the restaurant opens it will open with a different name or that people express their distaste by eating elsewhere.

November 25, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.
yaffay said...

I think this is much ado about nothing. If your kids ask about the sign,reference the sofa used in the decor and the burgers. Inappropriateness is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

November 25, 2012 at 2:27 p.m.

And maybe when the Speaker of the House isn't having an affair at the same time as he was publicly attacking the president, maybe I'll take the "moral outrage" of the right as anything but the hypocritical hysteria it really is.

Oh well, Bart Simpson is still the nemesis of the watchdogs of television but he's still going strong into 20 years.

November 25, 2012 at 3:20 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

Hey Happy:

Don't forget Murphy Brown, Dan Quayle's favorite target of opportunity. It's really funny how far his "morality" campaign against a fictional television character took him and the boost it gave to his career.

November 25, 2012 at 4:09 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

JonRoss, both parties are guilty of having major screw-ups in their party. What's your point? It's a waste of time to play the game of whose party has the most adulterers, fornicators, or otherwise bad-ass people.

As for Ted Kennedy...a "rapist?" When was he ever accused of raping anyone? You seem to like that word a lot. Yesterday you equated Obamacare with rape.

And as for "murder," there has never been anything to prove that he murdered Mary Jo Kopechne. Evidence indicated that she likely could have been saved if Kennedy had called authorities right away but the most he could have been charged with is involuntary manslaughter. He definitely did not think coherently and was likely trying to cover for himself, but to say that he murdered her is quite a stretch. But then, every abortion is a "murder" to most of you conservatives, so I'm not really surprised at your ridiculous exaggerations.

November 25, 2012 at 5:09 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

About that billboard...while the taste of the owners is questionable, I agree with yaffay that it could have easily been explained to curious young kids in the way that he suggested. I really don't see what's sofa king a big deal about it.

November 25, 2012 at 5:13 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Go ahead, JR....if it makes you feel better, play your little game of libs vs. conservatives. You seem to be unable to come up with anything else that makes any sense. At least maybe it keeps you from rambling the streets, flailing your arms, and yelling at invisible demons.

November 25, 2012 at 5:29 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

jonross blathered: "I heard barry is handing out free cheese and birth control tomorrow at the post office so maybe you should get some sleep so you can be first in line as usual."

Littlejohnnyross, maybe you should hand back the money you took from creditors and the government when you declared your bankruptcies.

Those bankruptcies cost taxpayers, littlejohnnyross. Maybe you should get some sleep tonight because I know you'll want to hit the streets early to pay back everyone, including the government which carried your bankrupt butt.

Or you could just slide by on the taxpayer's dime again.

November 25, 2012 at 5:38 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Is this the same Tim Kelly of Kelly Automotive accused of selling recalled motorcycles?

Perhaps the burger joint will be selling recalled beef as well.

And a sofa in a burger joint? Makes you wonder just how Sofa King Nasty that sofa will get.

November 25, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.

Ted Kennedy still upsetting the right, years after his death.

Given the defensive response to Desjarlais's actions I saw here from conservatives, I think that's yet more hypocrisy.

Of course, you could ask questions about Mitt Romney's car crash...

November 25, 2012 at 10:50 p.m.
Walden said...

Change the name guys. C'mon man. Not appropriate outside of Greenwich Village or West Hollywood.

November 26, 2012 at 9:23 a.m.

I'll start by saying that the 8th grade boy in me sees the humor in this and quietly giggles. However, it's only appropriate if you want to live in a place where "Sofa King Juicy Burgers" is located next door to "Aplha Kenny Body's Tire Service," "Mike Oxlong's Hotdogs" or "Buster Cherry's Ice Cream Shoppe." ... the list goes on. Since when did Dayton Blvd become the Vegas strip and does anyone really need another reason to avoid going to or thru Red Bank?

(Please excuse the examples as they were only used to clearly demonstrate the point)

November 26, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.
hambone said...

We Todd Did

J R is Sofa King We Todd Did

November 26, 2012 at 12:45 p.m.
grayhermia said...

I think it's funny. Taboo, sure, but funny. I'm looking forward to eating there and I'll buy a t-shirt too. I love the other two restaurants that these guys own.

Learn to laugh a little.

November 27, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
dao1980 said...

haha, you say very funny thing.

November 27, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.
RoadKing62 said...

I want a T-Shirt

November 27, 2012 at 11:35 a.m.
lknight said...

This is a bit of an overreaction, in my opinion. There is nothing actually explicit happening. Some wordplay for adults to be amused by, sure. Even kids' movies these days often slip in sly humor that parents chuckle over, but that flies right over the heads of children. There are much more effective ways of parenting than trying to censor everything around you. That will simply breed ignorance instead of understanding. There's nothing crude about the phrase "sofa king" unless you choose to read it that way, and there's no reason why you can't explain to your kids the literal and perfectly innocent meaning. After all, do you censor "Chickamauga Dam" because it happens to have the same pronunciation as another four-letter word?

In the end, it's just a name of a restaurant that makes about as much sense as any other name of a restaurant. I have to agree with the owner: if you see something shocking and vulgar here, it probably has more to do with your perception of the world than a burger joint's sign.

November 27, 2012 at 12:55 p.m.
mandelot1 said...

I don't have any serious problems with the play on words, but I agree with other posters that it's old and tired, and likely to not be amusing to anyone beyond adolescent boys. Speaking of children, I would ask Mr. Cook what his kids read out loud and ask about when they see any of the several large billboards around tow advertising adult toy stores. I have a much bigger problem with those billboards than I do with a kitschy burger joint with an old joke for a name.

November 27, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
valleyrider said...

Great name, and has the potential for helping Red Bank "turn the corner" away from the disgusting reputation of a speed trap town, and all thanks to the pre-opening PR. Amazing what a clever name or a butt tatoo can do to promote a business by rattling the prudes!

November 29, 2012 at 9:36 a.m.
Chase286 said...

Seriously??? Like you, I use the spoken and written word to make my living. I have seen a lot of things over the years but your interpretation of this business name never even entered my mind until I read this piece a couple of times. You see I was born and raised about an hour north of Chattanooga in place where our minds just didn't live in the same place as yours appears to today. Then I went back and read the article again and I realized you were talking about a hypothetical event that hasn't even occurred yet. The fact that you had to ask "what am I supposed to say when...." and the fact that you felt the need to "guide" your readers using specific prompts like "get it" and "say it again real fast" to reach the conclusion you were seeking tells me that this "issue" is more about you than it is your kids. There's a big difference between "Sofa King Juicy Burgers" and "So...fa-king...juicy...burgers" as well. At the end of this whole deal, all this is, is agenda driven, biased journalism. It isn't that surprising though, just sad.......

December 1, 2012 at 8:24 p.m.
clandahlina said...

I have shown, and even read, the name of this restaurant to several people. Most didn't get it. It's tongue-in-cheek, and it's an easy thing to explain to your kids: "they have the king of all sofas." (Yes, there will be sofas so it makes sense.) Remember--a word doesn't have any meaning or value until we assign it.

I find it sad that most people are focusing on a silly name instead of the important thing: these business owners are trying to bring business and jobs to the economically struggling area of Red Bank. To me, that's a much greater value than that placed on a word. Maybe some people need to get their priorities straight.

December 5, 2012 at 12:42 p.m.
clandahlina said...

*Explain to your kids.

December 5, 2012 at 12:42 p.m.
mom23is said...

This goes with the sign currently out on E. Brainerd for 1-on-1 personal trainers that says "Get Your .... In Shape". Has a picture of a woman's backside with half her butt cheek hanging out. Your kids don't even have to read to see that one. Business owners need to be more socially responsible.

February 22, 2013 at 4:28 p.m.
ctfpfan08 said...

The laugh is on all of you. The place has been selling out of food since the day they opened. I waited on line for 30 minutes last week and still didn't get to the register. I had to leave because I couldn't wait but I'll be back. No restaurant at that location has done half as well. Red Bank is getting the attention they wanted. And more people are employed. This is a win win for everyone. Lighten up.

March 23, 2013 at 8:21 p.m.
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