Howard restaurant targeted by anti-foie gras vandals is hit again

April 14, 2009|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

A Howard County restaurant that was vandalized last month in an apparent protest against the serving of foie gras has been hit again.

Steve Wecker, co-owner of the Iron Bridge Wine Company in Columbia, said Monday that no references were made this time to foie gras. But Wecker suspects that the vandals who broke a window and damaged one of the front doors of the Route 108 property were trying to convey the same message as those who spray-painted "Get rid of the foie gras" while breaking several windows and gluing the lock of the front door March 23. No one has been charged in that incident, police said

Since the first incident, which caused an estimated $3,300 in damage, Wecker has added "Foie Gras Friday" to the restaurant's menu and has servers wearing T-shirts reading "Got Foie Gras?" - a takeoff on the popular milk slogan.

"I'm sure that they're mad that we didn't cave in," Wecker said, referring to the vandals.

Wecker, who has owned Iron Bridge Wine Company with his brother Rob for the past six years, believes the vandalism is the work of those who are against how foie gras is prepared. The delicacy is made from the livers of ducks and geese that are force-fed grains to fatten them before they are slaughtered. While Wecker and others contend that the centuries-old process, known as gavage, has become more humane, many animal-rights groups have continued to protest around the country. Several cities have banned the dish, and, some restaurants, including Tersiguel's in Ellicott City, have removed it from the menu.

Wecker said that "business has been good" since last month's incident, and he has received more than 150 e-mails in support of serving foie gras and only three asking to remove it. Wecker said he even received a letter from a woman who had previously complained about the serving of foie gras, writing that she was saddened that someone would resort to vandalism.

"You can be an activist. You don't have to be an anarchist or an idiot," Wecker said.

Police are investigating Monday's incident.

According to Howard County Police Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Schroen, the vandals struck sometime between closing at 11 p.m. Sunday night and when the first employee arrived at 7:45 a.m. Monday. Two softball-sized rocks found inside the restaurant were believed to have been used to break the window. No other restaurants in the area were vandalized.

"It seems to be isolated at this restaurant," Schroen said.

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