#45 - The NRA café
At the NRA annual meeting in late May, the NRA announced that they are going to open a theme restaurant in Times Square. It would also include a gift shop, as I suppose is required for a theme restaurant. They would not sell guns there, but would sell outdoor clothing and souvenirs that relate to the NRA and the restaurant.
The question comes immediately to mind of what is the NRA doing in the restaurant business? If they have a restaurant at their Firearms Museum at the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, I don't think anyone would see a problem. After all providing food for your visitors and employees is a normal activity.
What is the business of the NRA? If you ask just about anyone in America, you would get one of two replies. (now exactly how they word it may be different). One answer would be that the NRA exists to promote the use of guns thru target competitions and hunting and to promote gun safety. The second reply you would get is that it exists to promote gun rights and to fight gun control by the government.
Both responses are basically correct, although the NRA itself basically exists for the first. The ILA (the NRA's PAC exists to do the second. That is the part of the NRA that has been most visible in recent years. (As a life member of the NRA, I am tired of the weekly mailings from the ILA concerned about Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Al Gore). The ILA has made itself very visible in the last few years fighting perceived threats to gun ownership in America, but most people see it only as the NRA.
Now where does the theme restaurant business fit in that? No where that I can see. It appears that the NRA leadership has forgotten their mission and is now just trying to be bigger. The theme restaurant will more likely hurt the NRA than help it. It has opened it self as fodder for David Letterman and others in jokes. It also reinforces in many Americans that the NRA is out of touch with reality.
From a business prospective, opening in Times Square sounds stupid. People in New York City are not known to be supportive of the NRA. Times Square has just worked to get a clean image back. Although I am sure this will be a nice clean restaurant, it does not fit in the new theme of Times Square. I am sure the gift shop will thrive just as Hard Rock and Planet Hollywood's have with a shirt from the NRA Café. The NRA will have to keep a close watch on what the t-shirts say or they may further shoot themselves in the foot.
Given the NRA's mission I do not think the NRA belongs in the theme restaurant business. They have plenty to do with out this also. If Charlton Heston thinks it is great, he can do like other actors and open the theme restaurant himself.
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