The Coffee Tavern coffee bar has opened in downtown Billings, Mont., despite recent backlash stemming from a series of hateful, violent, racist, sexist and homophobic public remarks from co-owner Larry Heafner.
According to the Billings Gazette, the shop opened yesterday, approximately two months after a string of sickening Facebook comments written by Heafner in the days prior to the U.S. Presidential election came to light. Heafner soon after deleted his Facebook account, though screenshots were widely circulated in the news media.
Comments from Heafner in early November included references to African-American people as “monkeys” and lynching, a suggestion to violently sexually assault Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and a suggestion that all men who hold liberal viewpoints are homosexuals. In one post, Heafner wrote that “The Coffee Tavern will never recognize a murdering whore for president!! Don’t like it, keep the f*** out!! We don’t tolerate scum!!!”
Heafner has not denied making any of the comments, and soon after apologized, describing the outpouring to Montana’s Last Best News as “the dumbest thing I ever did.”
Publicly shared screenshots of the comments drove a campaign among Billings residents to boycott the shop, which had been scheduled for a November opening.
In interviews with the press following the backlash, Heafner insisted that he is not racist nor misogynistic, despite the patently racist and misogynistic remarks. He told KTVQ that the comment he regretted most was the one in which he discouraged Clinton supporters from visiting the shop.
On whether he intended to abandon ownership of the shop, Haefner told the news station, “I’ve got way too much money in this to back out of it.”