MANHATTAN — The man who has turned away fur-clad customers from his East Side bars has received fan mail from all over the world for his strong stance against animal cruelty.
Johnny Barounis banned fur at his establishments on the Upper East Side, the Lower East Side and in the East Village ten years ago. Since DNAinfo broke the story in December, the 51-year-old vegetarian, who also restricts certain foods such as veal and foie gras, has received messages of support from all over the city and as far away as West Hollywood and Holland.
"It is not a new thing. That is what I find funny,” said Barounis, who owns the Revision Bar and Gallery and the Back Room on the Lower East Side. “I have been doing this for years.”
Many people reached out to Barounis through email and Facebook, thanking him for “putting his money where his mouth is” and sharing their own activism efforts.
“Some people from West Hollywood contacted me,” he said. “Their whole town banned fur.”
In November 2011 the West Hollywood City Council voted to prohibit the sale of fur apparel within the city limits, according to the LA Times. However, it is not scheduled to take effect until 2013.
Animals that are raised for their fur are often kept in small spaces and meet their end by suffocation, electrocution, gas and poison, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA), of which Barounis is a member.
Not everyone has been happy with the Barounis’ unique ban, especially those who have been turned away. Barounis shared numerous stories about potential patrons who have been left on in the cold with their fur coats.
Last winter at the Back Room one woman became irate when she was denied entry due to her coat.
“She called the police and they almost locked her up for the false alarm,” Barounis said, who also owns the Auction House and Fetch on the Upper East Side.
“Those who really did know about this ban the last few years were the people who were turned away."
For Barounis, a lifelong animal activist, he hopes all the attention over his no fur policy will only further the mission against animal cruelty.
“The cause is bigger then me and my bars,” he said.