Posted: Jan 9, 2013 12:04 PM by NBC News (WIS)
Updated: Jan 9, 2013 12:12 PM
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - Serving up Tex Mex with a side of shock value. A South Carolina Mexican restaurant is gaining national attention for the t-shirt employees wear and sell.
While some think the shirt's message is funny, others call it offensive.
Business inside Taco Cid in West Columbia is booming, but it's not for the food. It's for a $35 t-shirt stating 'How to Trap an Illegal Immigrant' - using a taco.
Leanne Snelgrove owns Taco Cid, said "I can't get them off the phone long enough to ring them up."
Snelgrove says she's getting calls from all over the nation, after a tweet of the shirt went viral. In fact, she has one employee dedicated to answering the calls.
Leanne Snelgrove also said, "you see what they're paying."
She's cashing in on the controversial message, meant to be and funny and political.
"We're definitely not racists. Illegal immigrants come from all over the world. Whether it be from France, Canada. I mean it doesn't matter. They just don't come from Mexico, like what everybody is screaming."
But one woman outside Taco Sid wonders what extent the restaurant would go to if other stereotypical food was used as bait.
"Lets say you were to put a watermelon underneath a box or some chicken? What type of message would you be sending? So she equated it to that. So what do you say about that. I would never go to that extent. I would never go to that extent. That's crazy. That's starting to get too racial."
And even with every ring bringing in money, there's a down side.
Leanne Snelgrove says, "We've gotten threats. They're gonna shoot us when we come out of the building. all of that. We've gotten it from both angles. But all in all, more support than anything."
Snelgrove's only Hispanic co-worker is taking shirt orders. Riley says she's not offended, but didn't want to talk on-camera. One customer ordered one for his relative who heard about it in Pittsburgh.
Andrew Corbett said, "I can see it being somewhat offensive but it's just images. "
But everyone doesn't feel the same way. For Brenda, it's an image she finds disturbing with some racial undertones.
Brenda said, "I don't know, it just kind off saddens me. "
Tito Hill-Guebara a Latino pastor in Columbia believes the shirts are ridiculous. He says the message is disrespectful...and perpetuates an un-necessary stereotype about Hispanics.
Tito Hill Guebara also said, "This is the time where we should be one nation under god..be united. You can get good business by serving good food."
The taco stand owner admits she didn't create the logo but found it while on vacation and decided to put it on t-shirts.
So far, she has sold about $1,800 worth of shirts.
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