I have what I think is a real treat today. It’s an article from a 1971 issue of the El Paso Herald-Post about restaurants in the area. Some will serve barefoot patrons, some won’t.
But it is something any of us could have written today. I’m 40 years obsolete!
But it’s a great article.
It has everything: debunking health department myths, the rights of stores/restaurants, the benefits of bare feet, some restaurants that do, or do not, allow bare feet, even a very early blaming of the “No bare feet” signs on businesses wanting to keep out hippies, even the explanation that the bottoms of shoes are just as dirty as the bottoms of bare feet.
There is a weird comment about athletes foot for restaurant employees, with a health department person saying, “After all, such fungus spreads from toe to toe and not from floor to toe.” But that would mitigate just against playing footsie, not requiring restaurant employees to wear shoes.
Keep your eyes out for all of those as you read it.
Some Cafes Refuse Barefooted Patrons
By Bob Ybarra
Youths “barefootin’ ” will find they do not have a bare foot to stand on when it comes to being served in some El Paso restaurants.
At least one popular song tells of the niceties of being shoeless. “Take off your shoes and pat your feet . . . We’re barefootin’.” goes the Bobby Parker song.
Foot doctors say “barefootin'” is great for arches and bones.
LOCAL HEALTH officials say shoeless patrons pose no health hazards in eating establishments.
“No sir,” a Denny’s Restaurant employe told The Herald-Post. “We do not serve the barefooted.”
The employe did not have to explain. Signs on the doors of Denny’s on Dyer, Gateway, and Mesa streets, read: “We do not serve barefooted patrons.”
“Many of our students are uptight about the Denny’s sign,” said Pat Ellis, a University of Texas at El Paso student and Prospector (campus newspaper) staff member.
“THAT SORT of thing is ridiculous. Some time ago students complained about Denny’s giving long haired students a hard time. Now they got the ‘no barefoot’ sign.
“I think the reason for not serving barefooted people, is that they want to keep hippies out of there.”
The right to keep certain persons out through reasonable requirements is reserved by the restaurant management, explain local health officials.
“There is no state law prohibiting barefooted patrons from entering restaurants,” said Dr. Lea Hutchinson, El Paso veterinary officer. “The only regulation Texas has concerning patrons is that they are not allowed to bring animals into eating establishments, with the exception of dogs for the blind.”
[Picture and caption from the article.]
“IF A RESTAURATEUR wants to require coats and ties of patrons , that is up to him,” he added, explaining that state and local health regulations in eating establishments apply to employes of the restaurants and not the patrons.
In addition to Denny’s, Gillespies Restaurants prefers patrons to wear shoes and suitable attire. Gillespie’s Steakhouse is more formal. The shoeless are not served.
Employes at Del Camino have not been faced with any barefooted clients other than those who stroll to the restaurant from the swimming pool. “We want our patrons to wear shoes otherwise,” the employe said.
HEINS RESTAURANT at Chelmont, which attracts tuxedoed to casually dressed patrons, prefers to have persons wear shoes.
“Definitely no!” said Neal Franklin, owner of the Branding Iron Steakhouse in La Villita. It wasn’t long ago that Mr. Franklin socked it to Miss Judy Came, of Laugh-In fame. “She insisted in bringing her dog into the restaurant,” he explained. “She did have shoes on,” he added.
There are restaurants which are more willing to serve the shoeless.
“Shoes can be just as dirty as bare feet,” said a Desert Hills Restaurant employe. “Although we don’t get too many barefooted persons, we will serve them,” she said.
“WE’RE PRETTY democratic around here,” said E. L. Stevens, owner of the Big Fisherman Restaurant in El Paso. “We’ll certainly serve the shoeless. We get them often and have had no health or other problems.”
While the law does not prohibit the shoeless from patronizing restaurants, the barefooted ones have another thing on their side. The local health officer sees no health hazards in the practice.
“The bare foot is the same as the sole of the shoe,” said Dr. Bernard Rosenblum, City-County Health Unit director. “Where the shoe goes, so does the bare foot.
“This is why we pay more attention to having floors clean than to having an ordinance prohibiting shoeless patrons.
“ON THE OTHER HAND, we will require employes of eating establishments to wear shoes to prevent the spread of fungus disease. After all, such fungus spreads from toe to toe and not from floor to toe.”
On an equally thorny subject, Dr. Rosenblum said the department does not prevent long-haired males from working in eating establishments, but like women, it requires them to wear nets if their hair is as long as women’s.
“But again, we do not have rules prohibiting long-haired male patrons from being allowed in eating establishments,” he added.
THE SAME IDEAS were expressed by Dr. Hutcheson who said his office had received only one complaint from a girl who had been refused service in a local restaurant.
While the shoeless are finding bare feet are a “no-no” in some El Paso restaurants, the same people admit they most often patronize fast-food establishments which have grown in abundance over the years.
In any case, there is one certainty. As colder weather approaches more feet will be retreating into shoes after summer of “barefootin’.”