How Gay Is Your fil-A?

Locals Johnnye's East Texas Soul pledges gay-chick solidarity

Chic-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy's hurtful anti-gay sentiments may have riled his base, but they've riled our allies, too. People seem to be coming out of the woodwork, offering sandwiches of support, intending to turn this thing on its cock's crown. Here is one local story.

Laurel Barickman met her man, David Milner when she was hired to do the graphic design work for Austin's old Whiskey Bar. He was the manager at the time, and a "work place romance" blossomed between the two. And it's a field of wildflowers that sways in the breeze to this day. Laurel IDs "bi," and Dave's her hunka burnin' love. They've shared love, lives, a home, and have developed small businesses (RecSpec video production, web design, DJing, etc., and Tamale Molly for the ND's North Door club) together, ever since. Their latest venture is their own food trailer, Johnnye's East Texas Soul.

"My background in cuisine and cooking is basically non-existent," Laurel confesses. "I make it all look good – the design, the look and feel and the presentation – that's what I bring to the table. Dave, on the other hand, has been working in restaurants and cooking forever, since he was 14 or 15. He used to work at the Gristmill in New Braunfels. He comes from a 'food is love' family."

In fact, Johnnye's in named for Dave's East Texas grandma, Johnnye Beth. "He just really really loves to cook," Laurel intimates. "Sometimes I am amazed that he will just cook all day at work, then he'll come home and make me an amazing meal. It's his passion."


When the opportunity arose to open Johnnye's and to station it in the parking lot of the Beauty Ballroom on Riverside, they leapt in – together. [EDITOR'S NOTE 4/10/14: Johnnye's was most recently stationed behind the 2014 Spotify House on E. Sixth and before that, at Holy Mountain. Currently, the kids are on hiatus. Check their site for updates.]

"Fried chicken, fried steaks, fried pickles, sopapillas, lots of fried food!" she giggles. "But also potato salad, greens… we're adding actual salads to have a healthy option. A lot of the door guys at the venues over there expressed a desire for coffee; so we have coffee as well. Just general good eating."

Just as the couple was preparing to debut their cuisine for the club hoppers on the East Riverside, a funny thing happened: A veritable Chick-fil-Avian flu virus began to infect the web.

"I've known for a while about the Chick-fil-a controversy," says Laurel of the closed-on-Sundays chicken chain. "I think fast corporate-made food isn't great, in general, but then when you know that there is like this other terrible stuff behind it, I just don't think that is good for anyone.

"I really do believe – it's kind of a hippy thing – but there's energy associated with food," she continues, likening it to the sadness she felt at the news of beloved downtown bar Lovejoy's imminent closing. "Someone recently said how every time you buy a drink or go to a place, you're basically voting for that place. It's a way of expressing what you believe in. I kind of feel the same way about the Chick-fil-a situation.

"The thing that's really been frustrating me – friends of friends would be like, 'Oh but their sandwiches are so good.' Obviously there is this corporation that is fueling, just dumping money into anti-gay agendas but lots of people think their food is really good."

So how are Laurel and Dave reacting to this whole chickbaaaaawcle?

By offering an alternative: The Gay-fil-A.

"We are gonna give 10% of every sandwich we sell to GLAAD to try and do our little part, to throw it out there that you don't have to eat at Chick-fil-A if you want good chicken."

Talk about your fine, feathered friends.

We're not going to mince words or bites: We have tried this sandwich. No clucks about it, cooked with love and spiced with just the right cheeky pinch of pickle justice, this is some damn delicious, big-hearted chicken.

[EDITOR'S ADDENDUM: We hear tell that the Johnnye's kids will be on KVUE's 6pm broadcast, tonight!]

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Johnnye's, Johnnye's East Texas Soul, Chick-fil-A\Laurel Barickman, David Milner, allies, Beauty Ballroom, Riverside

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