The reach of Hamburger Mary’s is wildly expansive for those who have never left the SoCal bubble: Beyond its three California locations—Long Beach and West Hollywood being the brand’s anchors and Ontario acting as an Inland Empire connector—it has pushed into Denver and much of the Midwest and South, including four locations in Florida, one in Ohio, Milwaukee, Kansas City in Missouri…
And though it might already have a location in Houston, its latest Texas outing—a space in the heart of Dallas’s queer community, the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs neighborhood in what used to be the Cedar Springs Tap House—is one of the chain’s boldest moves yet.
“We’re sending a clear message that no matter where our drag brothers and sisters are, we will fight to have space for them,” said drag performer Jewels, who is the Executive Director of Entertainment for the chain and is largely considered the Queen of Drag here in Long Beach.
It follows the restaurant’s most direct tactic at the slew of anti-drag legislation: A lawsuit filed last week against the State of Florida after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1438 into law, last week. Dubbed “The Protection of Children Act,” the vaguely worded law allows criminal penalties against a food service establishment to be put forth if said establishment admits children to “an adult live performance.”
According to the lawsuit, SB 1438 impedes on First Amendment rights.
“This bill has nothing to do with children, and everything to do with the continued oppression of the LGBTQ+ community,” the Orlando location stated on a Facebook post, which hosts family friend-drag performances every Saturday. (For those who might be confused by the term “family-friendly drag performance,” drag performers—like every musician, actor, emcee, or other stage performer—are professionals and, much to the shock of anti-drag legislators and supporters across the nation, know when they are permitted to perform adult content and when they are not.)
“The new location in Dallas is a testament to the fact that faulty legislation that attempts to illegally stifle us will not prevent us to standing together as a community,” Jewels said.
The lawsuit follows a failed attempt at banning drag in Tennessee—recently temporarily overturned by a judge—and the current ban in Florida; at least 14 other states, including Texas were looking to ban or restrict drag performances at the start of this year’s legislative session.