I've never quite understood why lampooning certain white folk stereotypes like rednecks, hillbillies, guidos, WASPs and I guess hipsters is considered fair game for anyone but poking fun of other ethnicities or religions is off limits. Really, I think everyone should be made fun, but that's neither here nor there.
I wasn't sure what to make of the whole "hon" phenomena in Baltimore (and apparently, a backlash is growing, so I'm not alone in my feelings). There's a fine line between homage and parody, and I realize the reverence for a gum chomping, cat-eye glass wearing, big-haired, working class archetype that's fading from the city's fabric is a harmless form of kitsch gone mainstream.
But it's strange. I couldn't imagine a New York version. The best example I can come up with would be if a younger, wealthier more educated demographic moved into, say, Bay Ridge (Staten Island might be more fitting after this incident) and started a guido movement complete with festivals where guys showed up with orange tans, waxed eyebrows, hair gelled into impossible spikes, gold chains, smooth muscled skin encased in form fitting tank tops.
And then someone opened a place called Café Guido and decked it out with lots of marble, Greek columns and lion statues. Actually, that would be kind of funny. But I don't know if would fly because guidos are steroidal and aggro. And you know, buildings have been known to mysteriously burn down.
So no, I don't think Café Hon is offensive, I just like tangents about strange snowballs of appropriated culture. And don't think that the clientele is mostly youngsters (though here, and nearly everywhere I went had at least one large group of Asians. I came to the conclusion that they must be Johns Hopkins students because the girls looked nerdy studious not quirky cutesy like the ones white dudes in Brooklyn like to date). When I was there for brunch, there were plenty of cranky old people. One gentleman with an oxygen tank couldn't get over the fact that there were no hot dogs or hamburgers on the brunch menu. He'd have to wait until 4pm for the burger on the dinner menu and hot dogs weren't going to happen at any hour.
The food is fine, nothing special. I had an omelet with bacon potatoes and sausage. I don't think my toast was buttered, and that didn't seem right.
James had something with grits and a biscuit.
I have no idea what goes on at the Red Men's Hall around the corner from the café, but it certainly seems like a relic of "hon" culture.
Cafe Hon * 1002 W. 36th St., Baltimore, MD