Rothesay mayor apologizes over Funky Monkey flap

The mayor of Rothesay says he chose his words poorly when he spoke publicly about his position on a food truck in the town and apologizes to anyone he offended.

Bill Bishop says he chose his words poorly

Rothesay Mayor Bill Bishop is apologizing for comments he made about the Funky Monkey Sandwich Stop, following a backlash on social media.

On Wednesday, Bishop told CBC News a mobile restaurant is "not the type of enterprise that we welcome in Rothesay" and had asked officials to look into changing the town's bylaws to eliminate such businesses.

On Thursday morning, Bishop issued a statement on Facebook and Twitter, saying he chose his words poorly.

"I have received many calls and emails regarding my comments on the Funky Monkey Food Truck and I have also seen the considerable debate this has generated in social media. Clearly, I chose my words poorly and I apologize to those I offended, and in particular to the owners of the Funky Monkey," he said.

"My concern was ensuring that mobile food establishments fit appropriately within municipal regulations and operate fairly with other restaurants. We welcome entrepreneurs to our community and we are grateful to any business, such as the Funky Monkey, that enhances the quality of life in Rothesay."

But some area residents aren't convinced.

"I should like to hear the mayor comment on what he actually said, instead of eating crow and commenting on something he did not say," Thomas Littlewood posted on Facebook.

"His Worship's original statement suggests that Rothesay is too elitist to support something like a food truck; now he just wants to make sure that it fits with municipal by-laws? Which is it?"

Bishop had said: "You have to know Rothesay, it is not your regular community. We people here have been here for decades and they have very firm beliefs, and needs and wants and the word change in Rothesay is not a welcome word."

Marlyn Isaac didn't accept Bishop's apology either, according to her Facebook post. "Too late to backtrack, Mr. Bishop. The horse is already out of the barn," she wrote.

Food truck sees support

Funky Monkey owner Dan Landry told CBC News he was surprised by Bishop's apology and noted a lot can change overnight.

The support shown by local residents has been overwhelming, he said.

"At this time, we're not as worried as we were a couple of days ago, but yes, there is still a concern that there's a negative force working against us."

Landry had previously said he was “disappointed” by how Bishop reacted to his business and that his view of what types of businesses Rothesay residents want in the town is outdated.

Business was bustling at the Funky Monkey during the lunch hour on Thursday. Several people turned out to show their support for Landry and to speak out against the mayor.

"I was disappointed by the mayor's remarks and I think that's a very antiquated view. And it doesn't reflect the view of the citizens," said Nichi Boyle.

Deputy Mayor Nancy Grant also lined up for lunch at the Funky Monkey for the first time. She said she was going to shop at Cochrane's Country Market next door anyway and was curious about the food truck that serves specialty soups and sandwiches.

"I tend to believe equally in tradition and moving forward and I see both sides of this question," said Grant.

"And I guess my response to you at this point would be that [the planning advisory committee] has given this business permission and I'm willing to see what happens."

Coun. Matt Alexander also ate at the Funky Monkey on Wednesday night.

"I'm eating #funkymonkey for supper, what about you?!?" he tweeted, along with a photograph of himself standing in front of the truck.

The response to Bishop's initial comments had been fast and furious on social media.

Matthew Thompson ‏posted on Twitter: "I support #funkymonkey! Discouraging hard working entrepreneurs isn't what should be happening, shame on @Rothesay_NB."

Stephanie Turner ‏expressed similar sentiments in her tweet. "Mayor Bishop "the word change in #Rothesay is not a welcome word" is not a business's the kiss of death! support #funkymonkey."

Bishop did not respond to a request for an interview on Thursday.


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