WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As the fighting between Russia and Ukraine rages on, millions of people across the word are uniting to show their support for Ukraine and their opposition for Russia’s decision to invade.
Pelican’s is one of the most popular restaurants in Wichita Falls, and they recently made the decision to join that effort by removing Russian products from their shelves.
On February 26, Gov. Greg Abbott asked members of the Texas Restaurant Association to “voluntarily remove all Russian products from their shelves.”
Pelican’s is an active member of the association. Scott Plowman, the owner of Pelican’s and local favorite Parkway Grill, is a member of the Texas Restaurant Association Hall of Fame.
Kenny Gill, manager of the bar at Pelican’s, said that’s where it all started.
“It kinda stemmed from the Association saying, ya know, we’ll support the restaurants who choose to do this,” Gill said.
It wasn’t long after Gov. Abbott’s tweet that he and the team and Pelican’s started brainstorming how they could be a part.
“I think it was probably two days after the whole invasion started, we kinda talked about it, we were like, would this be a good idea?” Gill said.
There are a multitude of factors to consider when making the decision to remove a product from your inventory. Revenue will be lost from bottles of Russian vodka already purchased. Loyal patrons who drink Russian products regularly may be upset by it’s removal.
“It effects the decision a little, but there’s always a substitute. We have plenty of other vodkas,” Gill said. “There’s plenty of other options out there. Great other vodkas to use.”
After weighing the options, Gill said it was a pretty easy decision to shelf Russian products.
“We kinda weigh, is this a good thing?” Gill said. “Obviously, with everything that’s going on, we thought it would be best.”
But it didn’t stop there. Gill said they even removed “Russian” from the name of a famous cocktail.
“We also had another discussion,” Gill said. “One of the more classic drinks is a White Russian. So we were trying to think of a new name.”
The ingredients all stayed the same, but instead of Russian vodka, they used Texas-made vodka. And, about the name…
“It’s kinda, kinda basic, But it’s the Tito’s Texan,” Gill said. “We use Texas Vodka, Kahlua, milk.”
It may not seem like much, but for Gill and the team at Pelican’s, it’s all about the message it sends.
“For the people who were drinking the Russian vodka, we’re just hoping that, you know, our choice, our decision brings awareness to the situation right now,” Gill said. “Hopefully our customers and our guests will stand with us.”
They’re small changes, from a small-town restaurant, but Gill hopeful it will keep catching on, in Texoma and beyond.
“You know, the small town.. You don’t think you’re making a difference,” Gill said. “But the more and more people that do this, it might get the eye of bigger places even not in the restaurant industry, but other industries to kind of be like, Hey, these guys are doing it, we should hop on too.”