GALT — Controversy is brewing in Galt.
“People have taken this completely the wrong way, I never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings,” said brewery owner Ed Mason.
Mason says his up-and-coming brewery called Special Ed’s was never intended to be crass or demeaning to those with developmental delays.
“They’re saying I’m poking fun at people with special needs, absolutely not, that was never the intent,” Mason said.
Mason says the name was meant to poke fun at himself, but that didn’t translate for some.
“The titles of some of his beers really affected me, especially when it says ‘tard tested, ‘tard approved,” said Andrew Rigopoulous.
Rigopoulous, who lives in Lodi, found out about the brewery on Facebook.
His 9-year-old son AJ lives with autism.
“These kids are innocent,” said Rigopoulous.
Sacramento child advocate Sean South with “Respect for Kids” says Mason’s business model was poor marketing.
“How somebody could get that far in the process of building a brand and no one said ‘Hey you might not want to use those words’ is confusing,” South said.
The city of Galt issued the following statement in response to the community backlash — some are calling for the city to pull Mason’s business license:
“The review and issuance is not a discretionary process. If the applicant pays the entitled fee, they are entitled to receive a business license.”
The city says it does not have the legal ability to regulate the name of a business.
Special Ed’s Brewery had its doors open Monday, welcoming anyone with questions.
Galt resident John Wallick wanted to see what all the talk was about.
“I’m here because I wanted to check it out, see whats going on, speak to the guy personally,” said Wallick.
Wallick thinks the name doesn’t warrant the controversy.
“One guy is trying to build a business here, I don’t see anything wrong with a little humor,” said Wallick.
Mason explained “Special Ed” is a fond nickname his wife coined for him years ago.
“We have special needs people in our family, we have a lot of friends with special needs, we love them all dearly … they bought off on this,” said Mason.
Still, for some, the damage has been done.
“If you spend an hour with one of these kids, I don’t think you could do and say the things that he’s done and still feel like you can look yourself in the mirror and respect yourself,” said South.
Mason says he has been receiving death threats.
He says he intends to respond to those upset and hopefully work on finding a new name for the brewery. Mason has since deleted his brewery’s Facebook page.