MONROE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A walk into East Frank Superette and Kitchen, and one is likely to come across catchy songs and kitschy items.
It’s a restaurant, a bar, a store, and a unique spot in downtown Monroe, one the owners, have fully embraced.
To bring people to downtown, though, they thought of something novel, at least for Union County — drag shows, which have proven to be a draw.
“It’s fun, and Monroe loves it,” said Cress Barnes, East Frank Superette and Kitchen co-owner. “It’s like, watching the smiles, the laughter, and the fun that everyone is having–it’s just so nice.”
Barnes said the drag shows are more PG-13, with children allowed to come in with a parent or guardian. The events have sold out each time they have been done, with a capacity crowd in attendance.
Barnes noted they are also well-aware of the backlash from these events.
Queen City News has been reporting for months on some of the growing concerns — and in some cases, threats — some have over things like Pride events and drag shows in Union County.
Recently, the aim has been taken at the drag shows at East Frank.
Coming up on August 13th, a group with a problem with the shows is planning on making their opinion known.
“They are coming in to protest against drag queens in Monroe,” said East Frank Superette and Kitchen co-owner Carley Englander.
Queen City News was made aware of this event and reached out to an organizer who said they plan on having what they call a “freedom train” to “keep these demons away from our children.”
Shows featuring drag queens in smaller towns and cities have been a subject of discussion nationwide, with many opposed to them comparing them — and LGBT Pride celebrations — to “pedophiles” and “grooming,” which is much like the criticism against the LGBT community made decades ago.
Barnes noted that the business’s support and willingness to do these shows is more of a sign of how Monroe and Union County have progressed.
“We do so many things, and this is what they’re focused on,” she said. “We do school supply drives; we donated wheelchairs to the Council on Aging. We are helping revitalize this downtown.”
The popularity of the drag shows at East Frank Superette and Kitchen has led to a few actions — the business itself will soon be doing more drag shows, more often.
The popularity also led Union County Pride to organize their first-ever festival, set for September. East Frank Superette and Kitchen is one of the sponsors.
The owners noted many people in Monroe have no issue with their business or events they hold — just that some people have a problem.
“This tiny group of loud people continue to try to put us out of business,” said Barnes. “We’re meeting them head-on when they come.”
Barnes said East Frank Superette and Kitchen is having an event of their own the day of the drag queen protest to counter whatever action happens.