If you enter the front door at Red's Savoy Pizza on E. Seventh Street in St. Paul, it can take several moments for your eyes to adjust to the dim, windowless, blue-collar pizzeria, which is known for its gruff schtick--a sign warns that the management reserves the right to tow any children left running unchaperoned--and cheese-swaddled, square-cut pies.
But if you enter in the back door, (the one that leads to the always-full parking lot visible on closed-circuit security camera from inside the bar) there's plenty of light coming through the glass door to illuminate the rotating cast of jokes and cartoons that the owner, Red Schoenheider, likes to post on the back wall.
On a visit earlier this week, one of the cartoons suggested that working for the Pope was easier than working for Red, because, "at least you only have to kiss his rings." Ha!
But below it was a "joke" that several customers didn't find so funny:[jump]
When Hot Dish inquired about the posting to one of the staffers, she indicated that they usually changed fairly frequently and she hadn't seen the piece in question. "I don't read it," she said. "I don't go through that way, so I don't pay attention to it."
When Schoenheider, who has run the place for more than four decades (he also owns the Red's Savoy on White Bear Avenue; the other locations are franchises), was reached by phone for comment, he confirmed that he used the space to post material that he found or somebody gave to him, "if it's not too radical."
But what about the dog joke? Wasn't that offensive? Schoenheider said he wasn't even sure if the joke was still back there and went to go check. The Hot Dish heard what sounded like a guffaw in the background and when Schoenheider returned, he remarked, "that one's pretty funny."
Schoenheider admitted that he had received one complaint about the dog piece, but said he believed 99 percent of the people who read it found it humorous. "I could put some worse ones up there," he said, and went on to describe some commentary he'd seen on the internet about racism towards white people that he'd decided not to post. "That's too far out," he said.
While sauerkraut should always have a place on Red's pizza, a "joke" about wanting a dog to maul people because of their race or religious beliefs doesn't belong on the pizzeria's wall.