Restaurant gives up foie gras fight

One of two Orange County restaurants threatened with legal action by animal rights activists has decided to stop serving foie gras.

Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach will no longer dish up fattened duck liver as a complimentary side to a $55 glass of wine.

"We're calling it quits," Ahmed Labbate, Amar Santana's partner and director of operations at Broadway, said Friday. "I wish I had the money to fight PETA, but we don't. We're a small restaurant and we don't have the means."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had sent each chef a letter in early April threatening legal action if the restaurants didn't stop serving foie gras.

The sale and purchase of foie gras was banned statewide July 1, but chefs Santana and Noah Blom of Arc in Costa Mesa continued to serve it in ways they believed would comply with the law.

However, PETA took issue with what it deemed attempts to sidestep the law.

"We're glad these chefs will discontinue illegally giving foie gras away," said Lisa Lange, PETA's senior vice president of communications in Los Angeles. "We believe the chefs were acting illegally and that they made the right and humane decision."

Blom said customers he knows well will still be able to get foie gras at his restaurant. He had been using it in a sauce for an off-menu steak dish.

Broadway received numerous emails, messages on Facebook and phone calls from callers who cursed and threatened to picket his restaurant, Labbate said.

"I want to close the situation right now before it goes any further," he said.

Blom said people have driven by screaming at his restaurant.

"We're dealing with a big backlash from PETA, threatening emails and calls to the staff," Blom said. "For the safety of my staff, we're just going to stay silent on the issue."

Lange said she was unaware of members making threatening phone calls.

"We can't confirm that," she said. "All we can speak to is the way we reached out to them, which is by letters."

Last week, Broadway served 50 glasses of the wine and went through about 12 pounds of free foie gras, Santana said previously.

Labbate sent an email to PETA on Thursday, stating the restaurant would stop serving foie gras.

"I don't have regrets serving it. Our idea was just to try to spark a debate. There are farms, local and abroad, that are raising these geese humanely," Labbate said. "We don't agree with [PETA] but I don't have the means to fight this fight."

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