By Carol Vaughn — The name of a new bar was on the minds of speakers during a public comment period at Monday’s Parksley Town Council meeting.
Several speakers, all women, said the name, “The G Spot,” is disrespectful of women and not a good reflection on the town.
Co-owner Kelley Hart also spoke about the choice of name, explaining her husband, G. W. Hart, often goes by G.
Those speaking both for and against the name said it is not within the town’s jurisdiction to say what a private business calls itself.
Still, one speaker, former council member Julie Nash, asked the council to send a letter to the owners asking them to modify the name. The council took no action on the request.
The Harts announced earlier this year they had bought the former Club Car Cafe, with plans to reopen it as a restaurant on one side of the building and a bar and grill on the other.
After they held a contest to name the restaurant, the name Off the Rails was selected.
In a June 28 post on Off the Rail’s Facebook page, the bar name and logo were announced.
“So a lot of friends and family from the community named the bar … we kept getting the same name so it just kinda stuck lol,” the post said.
“I’m not trying to start an argument,” said resident Betty Farley during Monday’s meeting.
Farley said she was “gobsmacked” when she saw the bar’s name and logo, including the tagline, “Everyone wants to come, but only a few can find it.”
“I was, like, I can’t believe this could be real. I thought it was a joke,” she said.
Farley said she asked G.w. Hart about it and was told the name is a play on words and on his name.
“To me, it’s not very funny. … It might be a generation thing,” Farley said.
Farley said Hart has “some great plans” and said she wants the restaurant to succeed, but said the name “is putting women’s sexuality there. … What kind of people are going to come? They’re going to think it’s for a lap dance.”
Farley said the town “is on the verge of getting out of this rut where people think we’re nothing but a bunch of low-lifes. … They have entrusted our town with a $5 million regional library and we’re going to have a logo that’s putting women down about their sexuality. That ain’t right.”
Mayor Frank Russell replied, “I honestly never thought I’d have this conversation in a town council meeting, but I will say this … There is absolutely nothing the council could do even if it wanted to.”
Russell said he had spoken with Hart, who told Russell if Parksley does not want him, he had been contacted by “several restaurants in Onancock.”
“Would I have named it that? Probably not, but here’s the reality of life now — have you been to Chincoteague lately? Have you seen some of the T-shirts they’ve got over there lately?” Russell said, adding, “It’s a generational thing.”
Nancy Duncan, of Greenbush, said, “To have a restaurant or a bar allude to a woman’s vagina, this just doesn’t seem like Parksley to me. … With the new library and Parksley improving all the time, I just think it’s a bad look.”
Nash asked council members to request Hart to modify the name to “G.W.’s spot” or “G’s spot.”
She also asked members to state publicly what they think of the name.
“It’s embarrassing to the town, because if they start calling The Eagle’s Nest (the current bar name) The G Spot, then Parksley becomes the vagina of the Shore,” she said, adding, “And we have been working really hard to bring up our reputation.”
She noted town elections are coming up in November and said, “As voters in Parksley, I think we have the right to know where you stand on the issue.”
In reply, Councilman Ricky Taylor said, “So you’re going to base your vote on what we think of this one issue?”
Councilwoman Carol Matthews said she agrees with Farley and Nash.
“I have the same hesitation about supporting a restaurant that seems to put women’s anatomy on display,” she said.
Councilwoman Jan Welch said it “took a lot of courage” for the women to speak out.
“There just no two ways to look at it. It’s very suggestive and I just don’t think it’s appropriate,” she said.
Councilman Sam Welch said he is a son, a husband, a father to three girls and a boy, and a grandfather to two boys and a girl.
“The other thing is, I’m a pastor. … I believe the Bible and I believe as a pastor, as a man, as a husband, as a father of precious girls, that does not turn me on,” he said.
Welch said he was “really impressed” when Hart came to the council and told them about his plans for the restaurant, but said, “I’m not real happy about this.”
Councilman Henry Nicholson said, “I think it’s a marketing plan. G.W. is very intelligent. I’ve known him all my life. A lot of us call him G. We’ve been calling him that for years. I understand his marketing plan.”
Nicholson said he “will stand behind G.W., whether you vote for me or not.”
Councilman Dan Matthews said, “I do believe it’s inappropriate. If it were my place, I wouldn’t call it that.” Still, he said, “It’s his business. He can do what he wants.”
Russell said he agreed with Nicholson.
“It wouldn’t have been my first choice, either,” he said, but noted Hart “has been successful in everything he has ever done.”
“It it doesn’t work, he’ll change it,” he said, noting, “…Times change.”
“I want G in town. I want this restaurant and if this little uproar here causes him to bail out, I’m going to be sad because if he decides to go to Onancock, he’s not going to change it there, either,” Russell said.
Co-owner Kelley Hart then spoke about the bar’s name.
“Everyone calls him G. He is retiring and this will be his spot,” she said of her husband.
She said the response to the name has been “overwhelmingly positive,” with more than 250 positive comments on the business’ Facebook page alone, along with likes and shares.
“My husband and I love the town of Parksley,” she said, adding, “… It would break my heart for him if he hears people saying he doesn’t want the best for the town.”
She said, “As a woman, I don’t feel like the name is degrading, but that’s my own opinion.”
Hart described her husband as compassionate and thoughtful.
“As a woman and his wife, I’m outraged by the way some of the people in this town are insinuating my husband is degrading women by naming the bar The G Spot,” she said.
“Yes, it’s a play on words. So are a lot of other restaurants,” she said.
Hart also said, “As far the word being degrading for women, I’m a little confused on that. … When you hear G spot, it’s definitely not a bad thing for women.”
She said the bar’s name will not be on the outside of the building.