East Village Bar Bans Customers Who Say ‘Literally’

Hyperbolic people should literally look elsewhere. Photo: Shanna Ravindra

If there’s one thing grammar pedants hate, it’s using literally as a crutch word — or, worse, saying it when you actually mean figuratively. The owner of East Village dive bar Continental seems to have had enough: A prominent notice now hangs outside warning what will happen if customers let that word slip once inside: “You must leave.”

The sign’s been making the rounds since EV Grieve noticed it this morning:

As you can see from the sign above, patrons who are heard to utter the dreaded L-word will be given “5 minutes to finish” their drinks. Use it to start a sentence, you will be asked to leave “immediately!!!” Why? As the note explains: “This is the most overused, annoying word in the English language and we will not tolerate it.”

The notice has been hanging there for five or six days, says Trigger Smith, the owner of the decades-old neighborhood dive. He admits the policy is tongue-in-cheek, but really does hate that word. (For that matter, he’s also no fan of phrases like “It’s all good,” “You know what I’m saying?” and “My bad”), but literally gets special loathing because of its ubiquity. “Since it’s English, it’s probably happening in England, and maybe Australia,” he tells Grub Street. “I had a woman from Miami the other night tell me it’s happening down there,” he says. “And it’s not just millennials. Now you hear newscasters using ‘literally’ every three minutes on the Sunday news shows. What’s annoying is people aren’t even aware they’re saying it. How could you be so unaware of your words that it’s coming out every couple minutes?”

As you might expect, not everyone sees the sign as a joke:

Trigger calls the claim that they’re being sexist “even funnier than the sign,” and also adds: “Anybody who knows me knows I’m a feminist who supports women’s rights and is 100 percent behind this whole ‘Me Too’ thing. I guess people will find an issue in anything.”

A backlash seems unlikely, since Continental is set to close in a few months anyway, and its reputation precedes it — older New Yorkers will have fond memories of its Iggy Pop and Joey Ramone punk days, while the younger, NYU-heavy crowd will have vaguer memories of the bar’s infamous shot deal: five shots “of anything” for $10 (it costs $12 now because of, you know, inflation).

More recently, the bar became notorious for banning “saggy jeans,” a policy that Trigger has defended by saying: “If you have a problem with that, open up your own bar with no dress code or door policy and see how long it lasts. That crowd will alienate and scare away your mainstream crowd until that’s all you have left.”

So an attack on literally seems pretty mellow, comparatively. Just to give things some context, Trigger adds that he’s also got a sign hanging on the bar’s mirror inside that reads, “The customer is always wrong.”

East Village Bar Boldly Bans Customers Who Say ‘Literally’