Metro Weekly

Jimmy John’s shop in Asheville wrote gay slur on sandwich wrapper

North Carolina youth claims the manager has changed her story about why she wrote the slur

Photo: Roy Philbrick, via Facebook.

An Asheville, N.C. man says he was taken aback after realizing that an employee at his favorite local sandwich shop wrote a derogatory anti-gay slur on his sandwich wrapper.

Roy Philbrick went to Jimmy John’s in Asheville with his youth group to order food, and, in typical fashion, gave the cashier a silly name for his order. Philbrick told the employee his name was “gayest of gay.”

Typically, the shop employees write “gg” or some other abbreviation, and that’s where it ends. But last Wednesday, one employee wrote “Gayest o fag” on the wrapper instead.

Philbrick says he was shocked by the incident, saying: “I was not expecting that day to get attacked. They didn’t physically attack me, but that’s very rude and very offensive.”

In a Facebook post recounting the incident, Philbrick said that his partner, Bastian Carver-Duran, called the manager over to complain. According to Philbrick’s account, he manager, who was the one who wrote the slur, said she knew it was offensive and apologized, and said she had even considered re-wrapping the sandwich but decided not to do so.

Philbrick claims a friend then called the restaurant to complain, and the store told their friend that they would not subject employees to LGBTQ sensitivity training. They also reportedly said it was okay because the restaurant hires LGBTQ employees.

In response, Carver-Duran decided to hold his own small protest calling on Jimmy John’s to require its employees to take the sensitivity training.

Philbrick told Asheville ABC affiliate WLOS that the owner of the shop later called and defended his employee, arguing that the manger “switched” the letters on the order. The owner stuck with that story when questioned by WLOS, but Carver-Duran says the story changed three or four times since the initial inquiry. 

Until the company agrees to require sensitivity training, Philbrick and Carver-Duran say their youth group will be boycotting the restaurant. They have also asked that the manager who wrote the slur be fired. They claim Jimmy John’s corporate office has reached out to them and promised to help make things right.

“Jimmy John’s fully supports the LGBTQ community. We do not tolerate negativity in our store, do not discriminate for any reason and we welcome anyone looking for a great sandwich,” Nick Harmon, the owner of the store, said in an official statement. “One of my longstanding managers tried her best to comply with the name the on-line customer requested to be placed on the sandwich. We are deeply sorry that we offended the youth group. They have been great customers for my location over the years, and we have been working with them to make this right.”


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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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